Creating and sustaining democratic spaces in education
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This article explores the context for the accompanying suite of papers on creating and sustaining democratic spaces in education. Prompted by the centenary of Summerhill, the internationally famous democratic school founded in Suffolk, England, in 1921, by A.S. Neill, this collection of papers explores and broadens out the central questions at the heart of experiments in democratic education. We suggest that, at a time of distrust in and questioning of the central institutions of democratic government, and in the wake of challenges to the mainstream system of state schooling, these questions are more relevant than ever. We argue that detailed attention to the everyday practice of creating democratic spaces in a variety of educational and social contexts can highlight the myriad ways in which educators, students, families and communities can keep democratic values and principles alive, thereby enriching our discussions about the meaning and value of democratic education.
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