First of Five Weeks

We are starting a series of posts that will deal with Clubhouse Democracy.  This term is not as well-known as ‘Summerhill’ or ‘Summerhillian’. It’s a term Leonard invented when he explained at a conference what he was doing democratically in his state school classroom. Someone asked if what he was doing had a name. Leonard said, “Well, I think I’d call it Clubhouse Democracy.” Clubhouse Democracy is essential to understand as we design a school.

Essential As We Design A School

Our Point Of reference

We are designing a school using Summerhill as a point of reference.  In several key respects, however, Summerhill School cannot provide a complete template.

Transitional Models

Leonard has talked before about transitional models.  I think we need to clarify what he means by this in the next phase of our discussion. The phrase suggests a movement from one place to another.  It is an optimistic vision of a school that can offer a model of Summerhill-style education to a wider world.  Summerhill School itself cannot do this because it is, quite rightly, determined to preserve its unique quality and characteristics.  

Some of these characteristics are absent from our model:

  • We are not designing a boarding school
  • We do not imagine the same luxury of space that Summerhill enjoys
  • The school may be bigger than Summerhill

In addition, Leonard has a lifetime of experience introducing democratic classrooms into schools. It would be foolish to disregard this when designing a school that, by definition, will not be Summerhill.

One of the key concepts that informed Leonard’s work both at Summerhill and in the Canadian state school where he worked before is Clubhouse Democracy.  

Jason’s Questions

Over the next few weeks I shall be questioning Leonard in a series of interviews for this blog and podcast series so that you can understand what Clubhouse Democracy means.

Here are my first questions:

What is a transitional model?  I think our readers and listeners may need some explanation of this term.

Can you define the Clubhouse?  A classroom is not a club.  What does the term mean?

Does the Clubhouse concept work for one age range better than for others?

Is it something that you did alone?  Or is it possible to train other teachers to run a Clubhouse?  I think this is important to the idea of the transitional model.

Leonard’s Answers

in Wednesday’s Podcast !

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