One of the interesting aspects of the #Occupy movement for me is the General Assembly driving the decision-making and ideology of the groups gathering in cities around the world. Modeled on non-violent means of protest as old as civil disobedience itself, the General Assembly operates on an egalitarian process of generating consensus that I can’t help but find eerily similar to the type of decision-making and values TALONS teachers strive to place at the center of our class’ learning on a daily basis.
- What is actual democracy?
- Is the current government of the United States a democracy?
- Whose voice is most important in an democracy?
- For PBL it is a great example of how student groups should function.
- What are the weaknesses of this form of government?
- Does this scale to a national level and what would that look like?
- How can we make sure more opinions are heard and given a true seat at the table before decisions are made?
- How can we implement the consensus model in schools?
- How could the consensus model be used in your classroom?
- How could the consensus model be used with students in curriculum planning and design?
These are questions that should be up for almost constant debate and discussion within a democracy, and surely within our classrooms, if we hope for them to be raising engaged and empowered citizens of our students.
Detractors of the #Occupy movement are quick to point out that it is “slow,” “messy,” or “unfocused,” seemingly without awareness of the fact that the most “efficient” form of government would be a dictatorship. Surely the process of representing the diverse voices of the most complex, interdependent global society the world has yet known will be a difficult and frustrating task to be realized (especially if it decides to eschew the soapboxes of traditional media and government), and I raise this point not to debate the validity of the protests or their root causes, but rather to hold up this idealized form of democracy-in-motion and ask, Is education up to the challenge?