SCHOOL CIRCLES FEATURED SCHOOLS
Democratic Primary School
De Vallei is a democratic school for primary and secondary education, based on the principles of Natural Learning. Here children have ownership over their own learning process. Together with their coach, students design their own learning program. Students also have a say in how the school is organised together with the team. In school meetings pupils can submit motions about organising school events, field trips or camps. Students take part in planning budgets and materials for the school. Individual voting rights and self determination are the core values of democratic education. Whether you are 4 or 13 years old, everyone has the right to submit a motion, and be heard in the school meetings.
As a student your decide what, when and how you want to learn. During regular coaching sessions you discuss your learning needs with your coach and put together an individual learning program. You take the initiative to grab your notebooks and join in the reading and math clubs. You submit a motion to be a parking monitor or determine the school camp budget. Children at De Vallei discover something valuable inside themselves. They develop a strong sense of self-confidence. They grow from creative, problem solving preschoolers into talented, self aware independent thinkers.
The Democratic School De Ruimte started in 2003 with 6 little children in the age of 4-6. It was one of the first democratic schools in the Netherlands and we really felt like pioneers. The school grew very fast and after 3 years we had about 85 students. The first few years where nice, rough, good and wild. A few years after the start of the school, the government sewed our school, because they said that “Democratic school De Ruimte is not a school”. So we went to court and we lost our case. But we went in higher appeal because “We believe in what we are creating”. Finally in the high court we won. We were officially recognised as a school.
We never stopped believing in ourselves and in transforming the world. So now after 14 years we see a lot of transformation in the education field and that makes us happy. We are the pioneers that can change the world into a more understanding and healthy environment. And we do that together with these fine young people with the wonderful sociocratic tools and use the differences in thinking so we enrich each other and that gives brilliant new ideas and solutions.
De Vrije Ruimte
De Vrije Ruimte (The Free Space) is a democratic school that works with sociocratic decision-making. This gives teachers, parents and students an equal voice. Every child is naturally eager to learn. By influencing the learning process themselves, pupils develop a large form of involvement and independence, skills that you can use later. But more important for now, these children go to school with pleasure.
The situation within our school has many similarities with daily life in society. The group consists of people of different ages with different interests. They move together, meet each other, talk to each other, play a game together, explain something to each other. This way of learning and living together makes children feel valued for who they are and that they can learn what they consider important. They also learn how to deal with problems. They are powerful people who have self-confidence and dare to take initiative. Children make choices: With whom do I play? Which courses do I want to follow? Which activities do I participate in? Because they are directly confronted with the consequences, they learn to deal with this consciously. This is how children feel responsible for their own choices and their actions. This leads to the realisation that everyone can contribute to the quality of life of society.
Democratic Education Eindhoven
DOE is a democratic school for students aged 4 to 21 years. We are a learning community in which every staff, pupil or employee can participate in decision-making processes on the basis of equality through our sociocratic circle organization. You learn in a natural way from your intrinsic motivation with inspiring spaces and inspiring people of all ages. Our mission is to provide an inspiring learning environment in which young people, based on equality, develop into self-conscious, creative global citizens who contribute in their own way to an ever-changing society.
At DOE we believe in the inner spark that makes every human being want to develop. You can not impose development from above, but it arises in a safe environment with inspiring people with whom you feel connected. Our school is set up as a mini-society and is governed by sociocratically organized circles. Pupils and staff can participate equally in each circle. This way you learn that you can bring about changes yourself, but that you have to commit yourself to it. We believe in the power of playing learning and serendipity. By following your nose, you make accidental discoveries, learning more than from a preconceived lesson plan.
Sociocratic Learning Environment
LOS Deurne is a sociocratic learning environment located in Deurne, a village in the south of The Netherlands. Students aged 4 to 21 can follow their interests, talents and ambition and learn in a natural way who they are and what they can bring to this world. The letters LOS stand for Leren (Learn), Ontdekken (Discover) and Spelen (Play), but also form the word “los”. In Dutch “loslaten” means “to let go”. We let our students go in full confidence that they can shape their own learning and development through play and other activities.
Our vision is to facilitate an environment where children and adolescents can learn “for heart and soul”. Instead of classrooms and scheduled lessons LOS Deurne has functional spaces like a kitchen, a library, a laboratory, a workshop and an atelier where people of all ages meet and work individually and/or together on their self chosen activities. All decisions are made in a sociocratic manner. Through the sociocratic circles we get to know and understand ourselves and each other. This way of decision making helps us build a school that’s a safe and comfortable place for all students and coaches. It is also an important step towards responsible citizenship and a practice in social integration.
VO De Vallei
Democratic Secondary Education
We believe that no one can, must, and should learn the same way or the same things! We start with your talent and interests – from there you will find motivation so you can learn more easily. Not every brain develops in the same way and that’s why education in our school is based on Natural Learning. In addition to organised lessons by qualified teachers, you will mainly learn informally, because it’s much more fun when you can search for questions and answers with your fellow students. Informal learning means that learning isn’t just done with books, but also through conversations and being together. You don’t have to sit on a chair all the time!
Pupils and teachers are not the same, but they are equal. This means that you participate in deciding on budgets, school design or school times. Our school has also been established as a cooperative, so anyone can be a co-owner of the school. In addition to our permanent team of coaches and staff members, we have teachers for all kinds of disciplines. You are in charge of your educational route, with the help of a coach you can pick yourself. This means that we look at your learning experience and goals in a different way than most schools. Instead of an endless series of tests, we use a pupil tracking system that is centred around you and keeps track of how you grow. Of course you’re free to take tests to track your progress, but there are also other ways. It’s also possible to work towards a secondary school diploma, suited to your needs.