Democratic Education

original Curriculum Model

There is no master narrative that settles things once and for all. There is no lesson or syllabus or course that contains the answers. Rather there are voyages, and always more fundamental questions to pursue.
— Bill Ayers, Teaching Toward Freedom

Long Way Home’s Hero School is built on the assumption that democracy and self-determination are inexorably linked and that education can be a vehicle of empowerment in the pursuit of freedom for individuals and communities.

Marginalized communities reacting to an overwhelming lack of resources will focus, out of necessity, on survival, rather than on cultivating the involvement, mobilization, and direct action required to develop a democratic framework for enduring welfare. For people to participate meaningfully in their government and fully contribute to the building of a democratic society, barriers to civic engagement must be removed. People must be freed from the oppressive forces that poverty, disease, environmental devastation, and warfare create in order to find freedom. From here, they can be empowered to build the kind of democratic systems that are liberating for others.  

Hero School is a site of Democratic Education. 

In doing so, it supports the creation of a democratic society, in part, through an educational process where teaching and learning is participatory, empowering, and emancipatory. Democratic Education provides pathways for individuals to think critically, work cooperatively, and assume the roles necessary to build a socially just and sustainable world. It can therefore be a formidable force for change. In a Democratic Education setting, students, teachers, and community members can become heroes who courageously assume roles as responsible citizens and creative change agents.

Principles of Curriculum (from Fundación Paraguaya)

  • Learning the application of technical skills and their scientific theories.
  • Developing problem skills in their economic, political, and cultural context.
  • Implicit and explicit communication: Intrapersonal skills and the ability to identify an orator’s social background.
  • Analyzing a problem and resolving conflicts in various situations.
  • Respect indigenous culture and re-establish traditional rural technology.
  • Learning to work as a team and to cooperate with the local community in order to endure through situations and adapt to new environments.
  • Performing tasks with social responsibility.
  • Learning how to implement, participate and sustain a project.

Long Way Home’s Hero School provides a pathway for children, adolescents, and adults to gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to shape their lives, local communities, and ultimately their world. Hero School guides students as they study a robust and broad curriculum. The school also supports active learning, where students engage in field-based practical applications of classroom lessons. At Hero School, students access the knowledge they need to live healthy and free lives. They learn the skills necessary to be financially independent, and develop the attitudes and awareness critical in service to their families and communities.

The Democratic Education model presents a dynamic, interdisciplinary curriculum that guides student-driven, community-based projects that address genuine community needs. By focusing the learning experience in this manner, it prepares students for engagement in democratic life. Hero School’s model of Democratic Education goes hand-in-hand with Long Way Home’s innovative and evidence-based approach. By combining a radical organizational research and development model with sustainable building practices, the approach effectively combats systemic challenges that plague Guatemala and exist as threats across the globe.

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7th Grade

Smoke efficient stove

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10th grade

Latrine/Septic

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8th grade

Tinaco

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11th grade

Tire Retaining Wall

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9th grade

Cistern

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12th grade

Tire House