Hello all I'm Mark Lucey and proud to be a Trustee with WCSS.
I'd like to introduce you to Paulo Freire and his deviation from main stream education or The Banking System Of Education as he put it. Paulo was the son of a middle class Family in Brazil. He had a unique experience as a middle class child where he became homeless after his family fell on hard times. In time, they regained their status and Paulo went to college. He never forgot his experience and always wondered why people accepted the situation that faced them without moving to better themselves. He wrote a book about it Called Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Which means teaching methods for the oppressed.
Paulo dedicated a lot of time to the slums of Brazil, teaching people to read and write. It was during this time he devised his method of teaching that underpins community work all over the world today. There was a problem though The Banking System Of Education was what people were used to. He believed that traditional schools and teaching systems worked on the basis that the teacher was the expert and the student was not. The teacher deposited information into the students' memory as you would deposit money into a bank. However, he felt this system was flawed and unlike a bank you could not always deposit all the information nor could you withdraw it at will. Some times the deposit would go missing altogether (which was usually my experience).
His students were expecting to get deposits but if deposits worked for them then they would have stayed in school and know how to read and write. Paulo was faced with a problem of expectation versus reality, so he started a conversation about it to find the way they needed and wanted to be thought. Over time, he found that the students learned through conversation not just to read and write, but they reached a point where they moved from what he termed Inconsciousness to Consciousness and then to Critical Thinking. They moved from a point in their life where they accepted their oppressed circumstances as their place in life (Inconsciousness) to a place where they said that maybe they could look at their situation and see what could change (Consciousness) to Critical Thinking, where they were actively taking a role in improving their life and looking to change their circumstances.
At WCSS this is also our philosophy every thing gets done through conversation be it the decision-making process of Systemic Consensing or the conflict resolution process of Transformative Practice to the School Meeting, Staff Meeting, Trustees Meeting and the voicing of the students own Personal and Educational Needs.
West Cork Sudbury School is Just one big evolving conversation and hopefully everyone involved will benefit and always be striving to move forward and create a space in the world that suites them and makes them happy.