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What makes a classroom fit to live in?

faludy_gyorgyWith the events in Egypt unrolling these past days, my mind has been on them and also on the wider question, what makes a "liveable" country?

I took down from my bookshelf, Notes from the Rainforest, by Gyorgy Faludy. Gyorgy is/was a mind like no other. He had traveled and lived all over the world and in on one small page, he listed his 10 requirements for a country. If it didn't have at least 5 of them, he recommended running for the nearest border.

I've been honored to visit a lot of classrooms. And I think, the same question is valid for a classroom, as for a country. So I thought it would be interesting to list Gyorgy's points and then write up a similar dictum for that of a classroom. Be prepared - some of my own statements are meant to challenge and be extreme. Here we go....  What others could you add?

1. Freedom to leave without an exit visa or baggage search is assumed.

1a. Classrooms have children there that want to be there. If they don't, they are free to leave and do something else. What a child didn't achieve in one class IS NOT counted against them in the next.
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2. Faces of the population are generally cheerful.

2a. Students are relaxed and smile a lot. They are free to laugh and show their emotions.
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3. Public rudeness is rare.

3a. Students respect their classmates and address them in a polite fashion.
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4. Fairly elaborate manners are expected of everyone after the age of seven.

4a. Students have been taught how to behave in the classroom. There are routines and expectations.
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5. Public libraries are uncensored, well-stocked, and much-used.

5a. The class has lots of books (a mini library), materials, decoration - all accessible for student learning and borrowing.
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6. Little or no hunger or squalor is evident and the accumulation of wealth is not generally thought of as the Meaning of Life.

6a. All students have access to nutritious food. Poverty is not a barrier to learning at school. The classroom has no obvious social pecking order.
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7. Violence is rare and , among the police, severely forbidden.

7a. Students are not punished corporally nor with emotion. All forms of violence are not tolerated (by students or teachers) and disqualify a person from the class.
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8. A general attitude of "live and let live" is seen.

8a. The classroom is not driven by "results". It does what it can one day and that is enough. There is no "guilt" of not keeping up.
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9. No political prisoners are taken.

9a. The classroom is void of religious, political and social indoctrination. It is a place of tolerance of ideas and where ideas are thought about and challenged, not gulped down.
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10. Few are destitute and those are charitably treated.

10a. The disabled (learning / mental / physical) are a part of the classroom (for part of the day) and are seen as equals in all ways.

Faludy, Gyorgy., Notes from the rainforest.
1988, Hounslow Press, Willowdale, Canada.

Views: 70


Supporter
Comment by Ellen Pham on February 16, 2011 at 10:34pm

With the events in Egypt unrolling these past days, my mind has been on them and also on the wider question, what makes a "liveable" country?

 

I've been thinking the same thing, David. If a society is not humane, what is the point of democracy talk? Or rather, how hollow that rhetoric is.

 

I don't have to go to a book for the first qualification- that women are treated equally with men. That there are no cultural excuses for the subjugation and sexual violence aimed at women. It breaks my heart. You know that I love men, and the dances between us. A kind and strong man is.... so good, such a gift to the whole world. I don't understand how the yin/yang of it can be so distorted, that there can be so much cultural hate towards one gender, the gender that is the source of so much softness, comfort, sensitivity, life, love. What makes a group of men, celebrating the resignation of Mubarak, attack a female journalist who has been an avid supporter of their cause, who is there to document their hopes and their victory, and brutally rape and beat her? Why is there not one woman on the panel that is rewriting the Egyptian constitution (and women wanted to be on it.) What can cause such hate against the gender of your mother?

 

I'm not being rhetorical... I'm looking for answers or understanding.

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