Ed: This is a special for the AERO e Newsletter. It is about a very unusual democratic university in Japan, written by a Chinese observer.
By Yan LI
From the oldest continuously running democratic school Summerhill founded in 1921, untill now, democratic education has developed into a global movement, from kindergarten to high school. There are a number of democratic schools at the pre-school, primary and intermediate levels but at the higher levels, there are fewer. I was curious to know how the principles of democratic education are implemented at the university level?
Shure University in Tokyo is a 27-year- old college where students have the freedom to choose what and how they learn and where they use a democratic decision-making process among students and staff. Mr. Kageki Asakura is one of the founders of Shure University. We met at the First Asia Pacific Democratic Education Conference (APDEC), which was held at the Holistic School, Miaoli County in Taiwan from July 18 - 24, 2016. During this conference, keynote speeches in the morning were given by appointed speakers and after that, most time segments were open space where anyone could sign up and share their own experiences in workshops, discussions, and other formats.
During the keynotes, Mr. Kageki interpreted the speeches to the students who gathered together and listened intently. On the 22nd, the Japan Democratic School network held an Open Space presentation about "Japanese School Refusal and the Democratic School Network Movement." Apparently, school refusal in Japan is a huge issue in the field of education. Many democratic school students go through the process of school refusal. In the beginning, the students who went through this process themselves, explained what school refusal is, why the students refuse to go to school and how the democratic schools meet the student's needs. They don't really refuse school for economic or health reasons but for deeper reasons that question their sense of self, their values and identity.
Read the rest here.