Learn by seeing, then by doing, finally by teaching.
Without the professional teacher, who would teach, and then who would learn?
In the ideal republic, the bakeries all produce wonderful pastries, the police bother only the criminals, and the schools are the most exciting places to be.
There are times to put them in rows and columns and make them memorize and recite formulas, and there are times to let them run loose like animals set free.
The Revolutionary Mandate:
# 6 of the Eight Principles calls for free primary, secondary and college education.
As a result, every school is tuition-free. There has been considerable debate over the years whether all college programs in unlimited amounts is free. Current policy, upheld by the Supreme Court, gives to everyone who completes a Lycée (equivalent of high school) is entitled to vouchers for up to four years of course work at any accredited college.
The other seven principles interplay with #6 to shape Bergonian education:
# 1 -- Liberty:
The schools should reflect the society, either the society that exists, or the society that educators want their students to be adults in. For all the cant about free societies around the world, in most countries-- certainly in the U.S.-- the main function of the school system is quite clearly to produce the skills of wage slavery: obedience to detailed orders, obedience to deadlines, and conditioning to bureaucracy. But in a society meant to be libertarian, the schools have to be free places, not authoritarian. The schools have to teach the young how to express themselves as free people. If this means a little disorder, so be it-- schools are where individuals must discover their respective talents and aptitudes.
On the college level, academic freedom is paramount, both for faculty an students. However the old revolutionary rule still prevails, the rule that makes Bergonia a "less free" place than the U.S., namely the rule prohibiting any directly spoken support for the restoration of capitalism.
# 2 -- Equality:
Education must be available equally to all classes and all people, which has a profound effect upon college admissions standards. Likewise, the content of education shall not exclude the perspectives of any religion or culture.
# 3 -- Democracy:
The school systems must themselves operate democratically, an arrangement that makes the teaching profession dominant in school policy, with a supervising elected school council, and plenty of opportunities for direct participation by the parents.
The school systems must teach the skills of democracy. Thus, the primary schools begin teaching the skills of writing, debate, logic, scientific method, problem-solving and dispute resolution.
# 4 -- Socialism and Syndicalism:
If workers are to control their plants and shops, and manage the fruits of their labor, they have to be broadly taught the necessary skills of self-management, which is to say the aforementioned skills of democracy. But management also includes the essentials of accounting, budgeting and micro-economics. This is why Lycée management includes students.
Socialism of course complies the duty of public welfare results in the merger of educational functions with welfare functions. Schools offer pediatric health care, recruit student volunteers, and teach health, hygiene and basic medicine at all levels of public school as part of the science curriculum.
# 5 -- Decentralization and Federalism:
The federal government stays out of education policy, and the counties & cities operate the schools. Each school tends to be self-governing.
# 7 -- Religion:
Principle #7 allows religious expression. Likewise, since religions have legitimate though limited interests in education, and since education is universal in scope, then a religious presence in the schools is acceptable, within certain perimeters. See below.
# 8 -- Public Ownership of Land:
This is now reinterpreted in light of the new environmental imperative. Not only does # 8 incorporate the socialist ideal of planning development of natural resources based on priorities of public need; it incorporates the environmental ideal of stewardship, which in the socialist context is a responsibility borne by the entire society, and which requires prudent and respectful use of the land and its resources.
Of course teaching the new green imperative influences educational content at every level. There is a conscious effort by educators to develop "green" curricula, which at its heart hopes to inculcate students with the ability to "think ecologically," i.e. think in terms of systems with multivariate causes.
The Theory of Education and Work
The educators in every society will serve their masters. Where a society needs no skill, it needs and has no schools. But where scribes, ritual-specialists, pyramid-builders and military specialists were needed, there appeared practices & institutions designed to teach the skills and organize the knowledge. Whether it was a hierarchical priesthood like the Catholic Church (the extreme case of religious organization), or a Zen master alone with a single pupil, or the old man with his grandchild, there is authority inherent and absolutely necessary in the process of skill-development & education, sometimes kindly and paternal, sometimes rigorous and harsh. The hierarchy not only directs the education, but it is often directing a process of welcoming new recruits, through a process of initiation whereby the hierarchy regenerates itself by adding new cells as old ones die or retire, no differently than the discrete family unit or the society as a whole.
In a more specific sense, the form and nature of education a society develops are directed by the needs of the productive forces, to generate the necessary workers and professionals. Yep, this is pure Marxism here, the part of Marxism that Bergonians accept as common sense.
Contemporary institutions of public education are, no doubt, the products and the servant of modern hierarchical political & economic systems. the modern hierarchy-- rational, disciplined, standardized, goal-directed, bureaucratized -- was first produced by absolutist royal states, then employed by Napoleonic conscription-based militarism, then applied to industrial production (whereas before the slave was a draft-animal, the industrial worker is a machine), and finally the modern hierarchy has culminated in the development of the modern state in both the fascist-totalitarian version and the liberal-democratic welfare-state version. Conformity and obedience are cardinal, indeed necessary, virtues in the military, and less so within the bureaucratic institutions of government and and on the shop floor.
Thus, schools in modern capitalist (and communist) countries became charged with the task of producing well-conditioned workers for employers. The imposition of mandatory public school attendance over the last 200 years was the first extension of routine state presence into family life, producing a drastic change in the lives of children and families. Students are expected to conform to schedules and deadlines, attendance rules and performance expectations, and obey all rules. Though the subject matter of "study" changes, the bureaucratizing method of teaching never does. But this uniformity in training is a benefit to the powers-that-be, since all wage work under the capitalist wage work is conducted uniformly in the same way. As students are routinized and disciplined, the process trains them to become good citizens, which is to say they become respectful of authority and inculcated with the prevailing moral and political line. In short, our education produces well-conditioned wage slaves.
One major Bergonian criticism of Marxian-style socialism is in its failure to address the quality of work. To change the nature of work was reason enough for revolution in the eyes of Bergonian syndicalists. Was work supposed to be repetitive, mindless, narrowly specialized, and machine-like? Or was work supposed to be like the engaged, creative work of artists and craftsmen? Was work supposed to be organized in a strict authoritarian pyramid, like the army or the corporation? Or was work supposed to involve collaboration, task sharing and fellowship? Thus, the Bergonian socialists, particularly in the "New Culture" movement, stress that the nature of work had to radically change. And if the nature of work is to change, then as a corollary the nature of education must change.
The crux of the Bergonian experiment is to make democratic all economic activity, and all work. It thus follows that the schools must train students into the skills of democracy, rather than the skills of hierarchy. Of course this has fundamental implications for the governance of schools (as discussed below), but democratizing education also has implications for the actual work of teachers in the class room, and how students interact with their teachers and with one another, and how learning occurs.
Moreover, the democratizing of education means that the education process should not be insulated from the rest of society, but that there should be a whole set of interactions between the students and the community.
Local & Democratic Control
Counties, autonomous counties and cities run the public schools. Both the local governments and the states sponsor colleges.
The national government sponsors the prestigious independent academies where the best and brightest minds study. The national government plays a major role in funding scientific research and thus confronts issues that radically affect professional education. But otherwise it stays out of education policy. It is a well entrenched principle that education works better under local control. So Bergonians have nothing like the one-size-fits-all "No Child Left Behind."
The national education ministry sponsors clearing-houses and symposiums so that teachers syndicates and local school boards from all over can study each others' successful experiments in curriculum and technique. It also sponsors a national association of college-level teacher education programs.
The ministry also sponsors national cooperative efforts on developing textbooks and teaching materials, involving publishers, teachers, educators, academicians, parents, politicians, and college students. There is a rule that every sentence in every textbook in every level of education has to be annotated to a source or data reference, all of which are posted on the internet, which collectively stands more or less as the public canon of knowledge.
National standards and national achievement tests do exist, but they are developed by national and regional professional associations of teachers and educators, with representative participation by parents and students. The national ministry exists in an organizational and advisory capacity only.
Every county has a school council or commission, consisting of elected reps, teacher reps, and reps from the parents councils. Most school boards have student reps too. The typical school board has approximately 12-24 members, to broaden participation, as opposed to the very small school boards in the U.S.
Each school in the county has a parents council that meets regularly with teachers. The school board hires a team of administrators who handle the finances, purchasing, maintenance, and personnel administration. But a committee of senior teachers sets curriculum, and selects textbooks and teaching aids.
In secondary school and in college, students train for the work of democracy by helping to run the schools.
The official line steadfastly maintains that quality education requires quality teachers. Teachers do have a lot of control (explained above), but they are (hopefully) held to strict standards. Half of all teacher education is in "modules" of practicum and internship in schools with real, fire-breathing students.
The regional and national teachers associations, the equivalent of a syndical, promulgate standards for professional ethics. They, not the government, license teachers. They discipline teachers who violate professional ethics, although the local governing school council may initiate a charge. In these respects they work in many respects like the Bar associations for American lawyers. As mentioned above, the teachers associations set performance standards and endorse achievement tests. The teachers form county, state and national associations, as well as specialist associations, e.g. associations for vocational and trade instructors, math & logic teachers, reading and language teachers, art teachers.
In many states, but not all, standardized achievement tests are used to test the teachers, not just the students. The combined scores of his/her students must meet a certain level. Teachers in part qualify for raises with consecutive years of good test scores. A teacher for several years straight who produces a poor mean score may be asked to quit and transfer. Moreover, no person can become a certified teacher unless they pass tests showing proficiency in the subject they are to teach.
Because of peer review, a poor teacher has no civil service protection when fellow teachers vote to expel him. Likewise, since parents can petition to remove a teacher, and in extreme cases have waged "attendance strikes" until the offending teacher leaves.
Teacher pay is one of the few educational matters determined by the national government, an allocation of power justified by the view that uniformly good salaries will attract good people to enter teaching in all parts of the country. Teachers are well paid.
Teachers typically hold a third of the seats on local schools councils. Likewise, most administrators are merely teachers who spend no more than a year or two away from their classrooms. The idea of professional administrators is ridiculed as another manifestation of "bossism."
Teachers are encouraged to take a sabbatical every seven years or so learn more things (and escape burn-out). Programs exist to offer teacher a variety of one-year sabbatical jobs, such as guiding visitors in art galleries and national parks, teaching & aid work abroad, building trades, working in labs & research facilities, forestry & horticulture, and emergency relief work.
Doctors, ecologists, engineers, computer specialists, factory workers, boiler makers, carpenters-- all manner of occupations teach short classes (maybe several days) to secondary school students, in order to expose then to specific data sets, practical skill applications and occupational possibilities.
Notwithstanding all the democracy in school administration, students are under an absolute obligation to do what they are told to do by teachers. The teachers in this democratic society of course have an obligation to consult with students, but once the decision is made, the students must follow. This is drilled into their heads from the first grade.
Suspension and expulsion often has the "B'rer Rabbit" effect, and so in Bergonia they are rarely used, unless another student has been harassed and requires protection. Instead discipline most usually involves detention (including weekend detention, c.f. The Breakfast Club) and extra work. Students who fight, destroy property or make threats are referred to psychologists for therapy and supervision, and only in rare instances transferred to a "tough kid school."
In the upper grades the students are allowed to form courts to deal with their own disputes and problems. The students are actively trained in meeting skills, speaking skills, debating skills and mediation skills, all of which are applied by active example & modeling around dispute resolution. the net effect of all this is to allow outlets and forums for the turns of adolescent life.
Adolescence, when not utterly suppressed in places like sweatshops and crack houses, will run like a creek, meandering, and then flooding from time to time. There is too much invested in channeling the creek, so when it does flood it does so more devastatingly than had people built their houses up on the hill and left it its natural disposition.
Authoritative schemes common in the US, like routine locker searches, bans on student free speech, mandatory drug tests are usually absent in Bergonia. These types of restrictions invariably insult the students by negative, distrustful assumptions and deny the student the respect they as adults-in-training deserve.
There are no cops or metal detectors in the schools because Bergonia is a much safer country, and although there is a fair amount of gun ownership there is very little gun insanity.
The debate on how best to teach reading & language is no less spirited in Bergonian than in the USA and other countries. The consensus favors integrating different approaches, including a phonics approach. Where one approach is used to the exclusion of the others, its results are measured for consideration in national and state-wide assessments.
The Bergonians tend to believe that language skills are best taught through application-- which means teaching both writing and speech, believing that the surest way to insure that a student can read is to teach him how to write, and that a helpful way to teach him to think is to teach him to write. After the fourth grade students are routinely given papers to write, but the English teachers themselves hardly ever assign the papers. Instead the history teacher might assign a topic, and the history teacher and English teacher both grade it. Older students are required to grade the compositions of younger students. Every high school and college has speaking, writing and grammar competitions.
At nearly all levels Bergonians employ "project learning" as a way of applying and integrating skills. Projects commonly assigned to high school students are furniture design and construction, gardening and landscaping, writing and publishing newspapers and magazines. Additionally, high school and college students for credit may run their own cooperatives to sell crafts and services to the community. Starting in the 6th grade, students are expected to assist in maintaining and repairing the schoolhouse, ordering supplies, and help keep things within the school budget. Every school has a garden. Vegetables from the school garden are served in the school cafeteria. Squads of students assist the local environmental authorities in taking and analyzing soil, air and water samples. These things teach chidren how to apply their basic skills, how to think and solve problems, and how to work together. Also, by offering such a wide variety of activities, a kid is more likely to find the ones that match his aptitudes.
The general philosophy holds that one should "teach by telling, then by showing, then by letting them do." A great hero of Bergonian education is Maria Montessori.
In college every student majoring in a science must study scientific method and then design and conduct an experimental model based upon a given problem, run the math, and then write a paper describing the process and results. These are prerequisites for any professional certification or admittance to any professional schools.
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing... worth knowing can be taught. --Oscar Wilde
The Levels of Education:
Daycare and Preschool:
Day Care is available from birth. Pre-school is offered for 4-year-olds. Many day care programs have teaching components to develop motor, perceptual & language skills, and primary "group skills." Once a year every kid in daycare and preschool receives a comprehensive "learning capacities assessment," including general health, speech, hearing, vision, motor skills, and screening for potential learning disabilities.
Esleranai (Nac) or Eslorilin (Min), i.e. Primary school:
Beginning at age 5, every kid goes to school. Primary school includes what Americans call kindergarten, and lasts 6 years.
Numerical grading (uniformly based on 0-100) is phased in after the 3rd grade; Berg schools do not use letter grades.
One rarely finds a single teachers assigned to a single classroom of students for the entire school year; instead one typically finds teachers moving about, sometimes lecturing and putting on presentations to all the students in a grade, and sometimes breaking the students down into small groups.
Every child is assessed for "strengths" and "weaknesses," with the parents meeting with the teachers. The idea here is to brainstorm about what might interest the child, and what his skills are, so the parents and school can get him into the program. For example, a teacher might discover that a girl is interested in music, particularly in the guitar kept in the school's activities room, and if the teacher tells the parents, the parents might buy the child a guitar and produce a musician.
Older children are taught to teach and care for the younger children.
Every child is taught a second language in primary school.
There is a great stress on teaching reading. American education is perpetually at war with itself over how best to teach reading, and Bergonian education is no different, except that Bergonians put enormous stress on teaching writing along with reading, and this begins in the fifth grade (equivalent to fourth year in U.S.).
By the fourth grade (equivalent to third grade in the U.S.) children are already being arranged in meetings where they engage in some kind of group decision-making, usually planning a school pageant or fair. Here they are taught to speak before a group, and they are taught the elementary skills of group decision making, including (a) identifying and focusing on the problem, (b) letting everyone speak, and listening, (c) handling and interpreting facts, (d) voting and consensus, and (e) the appropriate affects of patience and agreeability.
Medical Clinics often exist in tandem with primary and middle schools, where children get inoculations & physical exams & care. They are typically staffed with nurse-practitioners or physicians assistants, with physicians scheduled for appointments once a week or so. The clinics refer children to physicians or specialists, if necessary. The whole community may use the clinic on a walk-in basis. They have in the past been crucial to national vaccination programs. In Bergonia's clustered villages and neighborhoods the clinic doc, p.a., or nurse can easily come to the child at home in bed.
The Turanai (Nac) or Bestilin (Min), i.e. Middle school,
Beginning at age 11 with grade 7, (equivalent to 6th grade in the U.S.) lasting 3 years, with concentration on building the "fund" or "foundation" of basic knowledge, and developing the crucial skills of reading, writing, math & logic.
Mandatory curriculum includes (a) math and logic, (b) history and society, including government, (c) literature, (d) the sciences, (e) a second or third language.
Interspersed throughout the substantial curriculum are necessary skills sets, including technical writing skills (e.g. grammar), problem-solving skills (as in choosing the right sequence of math steps, or selecting all the tools necessary for a job in advance) and computer skills.
Also formal "group skills" training commences with limited student participation in school governance.
At the end of each term students are tested and evaluated by their teachers, with the development of an individual study plan for future studies. Parents and the students themselves meet with the teachers before any final decisions are made, and they may appeal the decisions.
The Lycée (French, yet now known as such in all languages), i.e. secondary school,
A student enters the Lycée beginning at age 14 with grade 10, (equivalent to 19th grade in the U.S.) lasting 4 years, and ending after age 17 with grade 13, (equivalent to 12th grade in the U.S.) lasting 4 years.
A kid gets a diploma, but there are different kinds of diplomas, including an academic diploma, a vocational diploma, a special diploma, and a general diploma.
Each student is still subject to completing his or her minimums in each of the five mandatory curriculum categories, which include (a) math and logic, (b) history and society, including government, (c) literature, (d) the sciences, (e) a second language.
Beyond meeting these minimum requirements, each student has an individual curriculum, choosing from one of the six "schools," which include (a) "Literature, Humanities, and Languages," including foreign languages." (b) "Vocational and Mechanical," which means vocational trades, including computer skills, (c) "Mathematics, Logic and Systems," which includes computer programming, (d) History and Society, including government and psychology, (e) the Sciences, including environmental studies, (f) the Fine Arts, including crafts.
Students also get credits working in apprenticeships outside the school in the last two years.
Classes are sometimes held in the community. Sometimes adults sit in on classes for "refresher" study or adult education. Sometimes the kids teach the adults. The secondary school is a community center.
Students help run the school and develop life skills. Older students often help teacher teach younger students.
Most of the states have developed a single set of certificates for the various crafts, trades and vocations. Acquisition of these certificates is in most cases a requirement for performing many kinds of work, such as (a) heavy truck driving, (b) manufacturing or handling chemicals, (c) coal mining, (d) firefighting, (e) electrical work (f) beautician & cosmetics.
One gets these certificates upon completion of vocational training, including health, safety and environmental rules and practices. There is no one size fits all class structure, so each one of the crafts, trades and vocations has as much training as it needs, but within each of the 31 states the training and certification requirements are uniform for everyone.
Usually these requirements are first drafted by the state ministries, in consultation with the relevant syndical or whatever professional association there may exist, and then approved by the legislative council on the state level that has jurisdiction.
Vocational training, like everything else, is free. Some of the nation's vocational programs are sponsored by state syndicals (e.g. truck driving), some by local syndicals (beauticians), a few by national syndicals (coal mining), all often in conjunction with the related level of government.
Some of the crafts, trades and vocations require candidates to acquire a module or two of college education. For example, police officers in many states have to take a ten hour module of college courses called "criminal justice."
General Notes on Public Education
A student, at least on paper, cannot drop out of school until he or she completes the 11th grade (10th in the U.S.). Parents are legally responsible for the truancy of their children, and may be sentenced to jail for a second offence.
Public schools are in session approximately 220 days a year.
A big majority of public schools-- at all levels-- require students to wear uniforms, or at least to abide by extremely stringent dress codes.
Day care is of course available the year round. Primary, Middle and Lycée in all school systems generally are in session for 220 days a year.
Most colleges usually follow a system of three semesters a year, beginning in January, May and September respectively.
Colleges generally offer different kinds of classes:
(a) "long classes," each roughly the equivalent of a standard class in a U.S. college, a class worth 3 semester hours.
(b) "short classes," half as long and half the credit, either meeting 1.5 hours every week for a semester, or meeting three hours a week for half the semester.
(c) "quick classes." One can also gain credits for short intensive skill training, gaining 1.0, 1.5 or 3 hours in maybe four or five straight days (usually a total of 35-36 hours), such as learning accounting software, "presenting financial statements to the rank & file," "fiduciary ethics," "trust accounting," "terminating an enterprise," "specializing software applications to your collective's line of work."
Most students take an "arts & sciences core curriculum" or "core module," consisting generally consisting of 9 or more classes totaling 27 hours, with 9 hours of humanities, 9 hours of social studies and 9 hours of science.
Many students skip the core and graduate with a specialized degree, and still find good positions with cooperatives, but the arts & sciences core is a prerequisite to any professional school, such as law, engineering, medicine, military officer training.
The student accumulates erisite (Nac.), "modules" of specialized instruction, e.g. "Organizations," "Accounting Fundamentals," "Accounting Statistics," "Accounting Standards and Concepts," "Bookkeeping Technology," each of which requires 6-12 hours of specific classes.
One builds a major field of study by stringing together a number of these modules. During a standard four-year stint in college the average student acquires 6 to 8 modules. Most students collect Stringing together these modules is like collecting boy scout badges, each one a signet of the acquisition of a specifically useful set of skills or knowledge.
Types of Diplomas: One accumulates the modules and individual class credits toward earning a degree. There are several levels of college degrees:
a) The Specialized Degree, requiring a full major field of study, usually a minimum of 60 hours and 5 "modules" (see below), (b) 24 hours, usually 2 "modules," in related fields.
b) The Basic Degree, requiring (a) a full major field of study, usually a minimum of 60 hours and 5 "modules" (see below), (b) an arts &sciences core module, usually 27 hours, and (c) a total of at least 96 hours, essentially a three year degree.
c) the Superior Degree, requiring (a) a major field of study, usually a minimum of 60 hours and 5 "modules" (see below), (b) the arts & sciences core module, usually 27 hours, (c) a total of at least 128 hours, essentially a four year degree, and (d) completion of a thesis within one's major field of study.
On a resume a person will list their degree diploma, their major field of study, the number of hours earned in the major field, and a list of their modules.
One adds to and enhances their individual "portfolio of knowledge" by acquiring modules in related or complimentary fields. One often continues doing this long after he or she leave college and goes on to work, throughout his or her entire lifetime.
No college will give credit for one's employment history or "life experience." Such credits are gimmicks that cheapens a college's own product and misconstrues what a college diploma is supposed to represent.
College is heavily subsidized in Bergonia, with citizens receiving the equivalent of vouchers, and they can spend up to 128 hours worth of vouchers.
Professional Schools" the Berg equivalent to post-graduate education. One needs a Superior degree to get into most professional programs, this including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, law, engineering, and architecture.
Most professional programs last two years. Medicine consists of two years of basic medical education, one year of specialized training, and two years of internship, one half the time in rotation, the other half in specialized internship,
The Abolition of High School?
It is nearly the uniform practice in all rich, industrialized societies that adolescents are sent to "high school" or "college" or some other designation of secondary school. Particularly in the US the high school environment often is a jungle, hothouse, a herding, a psychological gauntlet. It is most certainly an environment segregates the students from adults, except for the sharply demarcated authority figures at the front of the class. The adolescents are submerged in a purely adolescent environment, where nearly all social interaction is with each other, where they have very little opportunity to interact with adults.
Prior to the establishment of public secondary schools adolescents worked with adults, often their families. But in secondary schools there are, besides the authority figures, no/few adult personalities to serve as models, so no few examples of healthy adult work or interaction. This effect occurs in all societies with rigid public schools, but gets worse in societies where the family structures are breaking down, and where parents abdicate their parenting responsibilities to both the authoritarian school system and TV and other electronic trash. The result is compounded to deepen and prolong adolescence and delay achievement of psychological adulthood.
It is the view of more and more people here that the schools should not become such fishbowls, that the barrier between the classroom and the world of adults should be more porous, and so many of the ideas described here attempt to achieve a greater integration of school into the community.
The civil wars of the 1830s ended with the Covenant of 1840, which granted legal and civic toleration of all faiths. Instead of excluding any and all reference to God (as done in the USA), Bergonian schools invite all religions into their schools. Priests, preachers and proselytizers of any faith can enter and make presentations, and students may pray and meet in their own groups. In schools where more than one religion is present, each has a turn at celebrating their festivals and holidays, and every group can offer instruction on the grounds, open to everyone (including adults).
Students are not forced into a ceremonial common prayer imposed by a dominant religion, as once was common in U.S. schools.
There are some parochial schools, some Catholic, some Protestant, some Neo-Christian, others Miradi, all of which are largely integrated into the structure of the public system. Private and religious schools must meet public school standards for basic curricula, learning standards and testing. They must also open a percentage of chairs to children outside the faith who want in. In exchange, the parochial schools receive some public money.
A peculiar hybrid form of school exists in many cities-- a "federated school," also sometimes called a "cluster school," consisting of a core institution that runs a big campus and provides bureaucratic support for a cluster of separate schools, one perhaps affiliated with the Catholic Church, one connected to a Miradi temple, one a technical and vocational school, one a "civic" (that is, a secular) school, and one an arts and language school, or a "communist" school. Students can shuttle back and forth, as can teachers, in order to optimize course opportunities for students. In the Catholic section, there are nuns teaching, catechism classes, and crucifixes. In the Miradi church, one finds priestesses teaching, meditation classes, and sun-disks hang on the walls. In the 'communist" school they teach Nietzsche, Sartre and Foucault.
In cities & towns most people can comfortably walk to the local secondary school. The secondary schools function as community centers, staying open day and night. In the evenings a school's assembly hall serves as a public meeting hall, and adults take night classes in subjects like painting and drawing, martial arts, dance, history, literature and writing, and computer schools. The art room is open into the evening, with people practicing sculpture and painting together (adults teaching teenagers and visa versa). Likewise students and adults take dance lessons in the evening, because dancing is so much a part of Bergonian life.
The school kitchen often stays open until eight, charging families a modest amount for a modest, healthy meal.
The school library is also the neighborhood's public, or collective library. People can take books and return them for a deposit, so the line between "borrowing" and "buying" becomes blurred. People often discard their own books into the collective.
And of course once a month the community holds a big dance at the school, which all ages attend, and another dance exclusively for the young. Every Spring (generally the best weather for Bergonia as a whole) the school & community sponsor a big community festival-- a student & community theater production & talent show, a big swap meet and all day outdoor carnival, giant dinner, dance and bonfire, all with nonstop music. Dancing and music, all Bergonians agree, should be part of life.
"Young Social Action"-- Student Community Service
The uniform practice throughout the country is that a student doesn't graduate form high school without first performing some public service, usually two weeks every school year. The students look in on all the elderly and disabled folks, repair their houses, visit nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and animal hospitals. The public service in each high school is organized by a chapter of Young Social Action.
During the 1920's many of the Democratic Front groups formed a youth service movement called Young Social Action, in which the teenage children of revolutionaries organized themselves (with direction) to perform community service. YSA chapters looked in on the elderly and widows, obtained help for poor neighbors, staffed the local soup kitchen and volunteered in hospitals. During the revolutionary fighting high school students wearing YSA armbands helped the wounded, evacuated families and assisted refugees. In exceptional circumstances YSA boys were on the barricades. When the DM split, competing YSAs formed. But after 1936 the revolutionary government officially sanctioned a newly constituted YSA, and chapters were formed in every school in the country to organize student community service.
YSA, however, became as fractionalized as the DF as a whole, and so YSA chapters can have very distinct personalities, as long as they abide by certain mandatory requirements. One finds Young Catholic Action, Young Christian Action, Young Socialist Action, Young Syndicalist Action and Young Green Action student groups, but they all have to follow the service and reporting requirements imposed by the regional councils of YSA.
Rev 17 Oct 05