Promoting Collaboration Toolset
for equity and learning

Students as school stakeholders

Involving students, giving them a voice within school and allowing them participate in decision making, can critically contribute to the enhancement of the social capital of schools. Participation is an important learning experience and preparation for active and responsible citizenship, as far as John Dewey had demonstrated. In line with Dewey came Waldorf Schools, Freinet, Summerhill, schools based on Korczak???s principles, etc. The more recent competency-based educational paradigm places the student in the centre of the teaching-learning process, stressing the fact that he/she is the subject of learning and not the recipient, so he/she must be active, learning by experience, by doing, by conviviality and sharing, as well as by being engaged in the design of school life from curriculum to timetables.

Many voices disagree, arguing that students are not mature enough. Studygroups However, plenty of examples show otherwise, such as Escola da Ponte in Portugal, where the development of the curricula is undertaken in learning workshops, attended voluntarily by students that learn how to self-regulate their learning process, supervised by teachers trained in active methodologies. The school is mainly governed by the weekly assembly organized and totally run by students ??? a successful experience for over the past 30 years.

Plenty of other examples, from kindergarten to college across the world, are disseminated in UNICEF's Child and youth participation resource guide, such as the School Councils, a portal offering resources on establishing and running school councils, and Fletcher's Meaningful Student Involvement Resource Guide and Meaningful Student Involvement: An Idea Guide.

Even if students' participation is restricted to certain age groups in some countries such as Greece and missing totally in many others (in spite of the legal basis offered by The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child), the fact is that good practices, showing the advantages of student participation from the earliest possible age can neither be neglected nor devalued.

To what extent opposing and underestimating students' participation in school reinforces the reproductive function of the school and prevents social justice from being enacted in everyday school life?

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© 2014 EPNoSL Project