I utilized Degrees of Democracy Framework (DDF) to examine the extent to which the NT school model embodies characteristics and practices related to demo-cratic education in general and holistic democracy in particular.
Woods and Woods (2012) defined holistic democracy as a collab-orative process through which each person develops more fully when in spiritual and ecological communion with others. Holistic democracy enables individuals to find their purpose and seek “truth in an open-hearted, open-minded way” while extending their individual capacities (p. 708). Further, it entails all members of the school community to act in inclusive, egalitarian, and peaceful ways when collectively making decisions, solving problems, and resolving conflict.
Holistic democracy includes four “ways of being and acting:” holistic meaning, power sharing, transforming dialogue, and holistic well-being. Holistic meaning describes our consciousness of what it means to be human, and how we pursue our human nature as spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional, artistic, and physical beings. Power sharing identifies the ways that we ought to interact with each other through structures that distribute decision- making and include all stakeholders. Transforming dialogue defines an atmosphere where individuals may share ideas openly and disagree respectfully with the intention of reaching under-standing of self and others, personal growth, and community good. and utilitarian ends. Finally, holistic well-being embodies a sense of connection among individuals through “democratic participant-ton and a sense of agency”
The DDF explores holistic democracy through 13 variables whereby schools are examined along a continuum from a “rational bureaucratic hierarchy” (RBH) to a holistic democracy (HD). Holistic meaning is measured by organizational purpose, the goals of learning, teaching pedagogues, and approaches to learning. Levels of power sharing are identified based on the structure of authority, as well as spaces for and scope of participation. Transforming dialogue is examined via the direction of communications, dialog purposes, and overall engagement in dialogue. Finally, holistic well-being is evaluated based on the nature and quality of relationships within the school, the personal sense of belonging to the school, and the way(s) of thinking encouraged and supported by the school.
A more detailed description of each variable will contribute to a better understanding of the DDF. As describe above, holistic meaning includes four variables: principal organizational purpose, knowledge goal, method of teaching and creating knowledge, and mode of learning.
Firstly, principal organizational purpose refers to the school’s mission, which is gauged through the most valued measures of success, as well as the overarching principles that drive teaching and learning. RBH schools might focus on measures such as standardized test scores and grade point averages. These compare students or schools to each other, creating a competitive rather than collaborative environment. Conversely, HD schools prioritize principles such as equity, care, and parity so that students may learn to balance their own growth with the growth of others.
Second, knowledge goal describes the types of student and teacher knowledge that are valued and pursued within the school. RBH schools emphasize the types of knowledge traditionally measured through standardized tests. However, HD schools are more likely to teach and measure 21st-century learning such as collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, technol-ogy integration, and communication. These learning goals embody not just traditional academic performance, but also interpersonal and interpersonal learning and growth.
Method of Teaching
Third, method of teaching and creating knowledge includes a school’s organizational structures and understanding of knowledge. RBH schools would utilize departmental structures whereby content is taught in isolation demonstrating delimited instruction. But HD schools approach knowledge as interdisciplinary and co-created by students and teachers alike. Additionally, instructional approaches such as inquiry or project-based learning offer students ways to master skills-based knowledge beyond the learning objectives defined within lists of content standards.
Mode of Learning
Finally, mode of learning describes the emphasis placed on specific types of learning. While RBH schools emphasize cognitive learning, HD schools move toward inclusive learning that incorporates not only cognitive learning, but also emotional, anesthetic, artistic, transcendent, and instinctual learning. In practice, HD schools might emphasize students’ social and emotional development as equally important to learning content standards.