Behaviour and Clubhouse Democracy ?

This stage of our Design a School series is looking at the key concept of Clubhouse Democracy.  Last week we looked at one aspect of behaviour. This week we are going to look at this issue in more detail

Behaviour is one of the main concerns of parents, teachers and administrators.  Bad behaviour at school leads to wasted time, effort and opportunity.  Why do children behave badly? And what can we do about it?

We do not need to get into an ideological knot here.  Neill was quite clear about the difference between freedom and licence.  He often complained about parents who thought that letting their children behave like brats was the triumph of freedom.  We agree with Neill.  We think that disruptive, aggressive and violent actions are inimical to a good school.

The question is: what do you do about it?  Mainstream schools suffer the consequences of obliging all children to work in the same conditions at all times. They respond to this by focussing on discipline. Children who act out may well be drugged into conformity.  I am no expert in ADHD and autistic spectrum disorders, but I have a clear preference for changes in the environment to help those children above the use of drugs.

This week we are looking at how Clubhouse Democracy can work to assist children with behavioural and learning issues.  Leonard was an experienced Special Needs teacher before he started to work with the Clubhouse Democracy model.

This week we find out how democracy affects behaviour

My questions:

What was your experience in Special Education?

When you introduced Clubhouse Democracy did you notice a change in behaviour?

Did children behave differently outside the Clubhouse?

Can you be certain that this was the effect of the Clubhouse?  Sceptics will say that your experience and seniority were the defining factors.

How did you deal with ADHD?

Discipline is a big issue in mainstream schools. Does the Clubhouse affect the children’s perception of discipline?

What would happen to a kid who could not conform to Clubhouse norms?

At Summerhill kids who did not want to be in Class 2 had extensive grounds to play in.  Is it essential to our school to have these spaces?

Is there a limit to the number of “rebel” children our school can take?  Alternative education often attracts the parents of children who have difficulties in the mainstream.  Do we have to be prepared for a high number of Special Needs children?

Can the Clubhouse Democracy model work for all teachers?  Will teachers need specific training?

We Discuss all of this in the Wednesday Podcast.

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