The democratic school CoLibri was established in September 2018 by a group of enthusiastic parents. We are inspired by the work of Daniel Greenberg, Peter Gray, A. S. Neill and John Holt.
The democratic school is a safe place where children are fully responsible for what they are learning and how. There is no curriculum or scheduled lessons. Children are free to play and follow their inner voice, their passions, goals and aspirations. Staff members act as facilitators, to help children achieve their goals.
The school runs on democratic principles. The School Council makes all the decisions related to an everyday running of the school (e.g. trip suggestions, purchase of material, new school staff and children, setting rules). Each member of the school (the staff and children) has an equal vote. The meeting is voluntary, however, all are expected to abide by the decisions made at the Council.
If children need help with conflict resolution, they have the option of approaching an adult for empathic listening, a mediated meeting or writing a proposal for a meeting of the so-called Mediation Circle.
The Mediation circle is one of the school's democratic bodies, managed by a working group whose membership is voluntary. We are inspired by the concept of Nonviolent Communication according to Marshall Rosenberg, who sees the source of conflict and violence in unfulfilled needs.
- Our democratic school is registered under the Czech Ministry of Education
- We are based in Předklášteří, Tišnov area, Czech Republic
- The English language is a natural part of the school, we have English-speaking volunteers and most of the team members are fluent in English
How it works in our school
Children choose their own lessons and activities to participate in. Free play and rest is an integral part of school days. The offer of lessons, courses and thematic workshops is continuously adjusted according to the current interest of the children. The group is age-mixed, so children learn from each other.
Democratic structure of the school
The school is governed by the School Council, which proposes and approves all rules and manages the day-to-day running of the school. Every member of the school community, child and adult, has an equal vote at the council. All school members are active creators of school events, learn to manage their freedom and are responsible for their actions.
What the school provides to its students
- the freedom to devote their time to what interests them
- indoor and outdoor space, which they create and maintain together
- offer of activities and equipped environment
- support and help in learning and solving everyday situations
- social contacts with children and adults of different ages
Duties of school pupils
- school attendance
- follow the laws of the Czech Republic
- follow school rules
- perform the function of a member of Judicial Committee and participate in the meetings of the JC when called
All people present in the school are obliged to follow the rules of the school. These rules are proposed, discussed and approved at the School Council. Rules can be added, changed, modified or canceled as needed. The rules are kept in The Book of Rules and are available for anybody to read.
The Council meets regularly twice a week, if necessary, it can be convened more often. It discusses all matters related to the normal running of the school (proposals for trips, educational courses, needs of community members, purchase of materials, people in the school, creation of rules, organization of various activities…). Attendance at the Council is not mandatory, but the decisions made at it must be respected. When making decisions at the Council, all present members of the school community (i.e. pupils and adult school staff) have one vote. The visitors can submit proposals or discuss, but do not have the right to vote.
One of the duties of children and adults is to regularly be a member of the Judicial Committee. In the event of a conflict, rule violation, or other undesirable situation that cannot be resolved at the present moment, it is possible to refer this to the JC. It currently consists of two children and one adult member of the community, and they serve in the same composition for two weeks. The complaint is submitted in writing. JC has to investigate the complaint, discuss it with all parties involved and find a solution acceptable to all parties. If the JC does not find an acceptable solution or if the same offense is repeated more than twice, it is referred to the Council for resolution.
How children learn
An offer of one-off or regular lessons, courses, trips, and other activities is created according to the needs and interests of the children, or the own interests of the adult members of the community. Children can also come up with an offer of activities for others. Course conditions are set by their leader and participants are informed about them in advance. Courses and offers are listed continuously throughout the school year, so that current requirements for education and personal development of children are met. Across the community, everyone can also arrange independent individual teaching or support among themselves. If an individual or group needs an external expert for their interest, this request will be discussed at the Council or Financial Group, which will decide on the terms of its acceptance.
The role of adults
The goal of the presence of adults is, first of all, to be a good role model for children - what it is like to be an adult member of our society, how adults behave in different situations, how they solve problems, how they communicate. Their authenticity in life, in relationships, and their willingness to take responsibility for their lives become an example. Children can appeal to adults in case of need and with a request for help. Adults are children's partners and guides in the learning process. Adults can come with a range of activities according to their focus and interest. Apart from the time spent with the children, adults also carry out other activities that are necessary to ensure the good functioning of the whole school.
In order for the school to function as well as possible, the role and attitude of parents is also very important. Compliance of both parents with the philosophy and principles of the school, as well as their trust and respect for the children, is key. The ability to support the child in contact with the environment, which may not always have an understanding for this model of education, is also important.
Parents are part of the wider school community. They can participate in all events and activities that are organized for the wider school community. They may spend the day at school under conditions determined by the Council. They can come with an offer of activities for children. They can help with the running of the school.
The school organizes regular meetings for parents, where they can share their expectations, fears, joys and worries.