Empowerment – from a presentation at the International Democratic Education Conference in Bangalore India

At the end of November I attended the International Democratic Education Conference in Bangalore India. As part of the presentation that I made I explored the notion of empowerment. I used the model shown below which summarises the way in which we think about empowerment in Self Managed Learning College. It uses the idea of traffic lights to highlight the difference between non-negotiable, negotiable and empowered activity. Like any organisation we have some non-negotiable elements. These include that we start the day with our community meeting. However what people say in the community meetings is up to the individual. They […]

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A positive and uplifting community

Earlier this year, I conducted my 8 week block placement at SMLC, whose purpose was two-fold, firstly, I aspired to support the organisation’s work in the role of a volunteer and secondly, I was required to undertake a research project. My researcher role required me to observe and interact with learning advisors (LA) and learning group advisors to create an in-depth understanding of what they do and my role as a volunteer resulted in me helping students and LA’s on a daily basis with activities and workshops. Looking back and writing this, I disgustingly remember counting down days where my placement would be over. […]

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Thoughts from India

I am in Bangalore to attend and run a session at, this year’s International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC). I used the opportunity to arrive early to talk with some teachers and especially to gain insights into the current situation here from Amukta Mahaptra, who runs SchoolScape based in Bangalore. (Amukta is also the convenor of this Conference and is well known in India for her work.) Overall the picture here is very similar to what is happening all over the world. State-run schools are very traditional, classroom-based and totally teacher led. There is minimal room for young people to have […]

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The worst attender in high school…

Nobel Laureate and President of the Royal Society Sir Venki Ramakrishnan was being interviewed on BBC radio recently. Here is someone who is about as respectable as you can get. Yet being questioned about his education he was happy to say that he was a poor attender at school and at university. One trick he explained at university was to sit in lectures by the window so that after the register had been called, and the lecturer had turned his back to write on the board, he could climb out of the window and go off for a coffee. It reminded me […]

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SML COLLEGE – a safe space

Along with 31 other students (aged 9-16) I attend SML College.  I think as there are only a few people, bullying is non-existent. Everybody may not be your best friend, however you still know and respect everyone. Bullying is surprisingly common in regular schools, personally I find that fairly appalling. I think as there are hundreds of students in even the smaller schools, and you don’t really know 90% of everybody, and they will accept everybody, you are bound to have some bullies. As in SMLC, everybody that wants to join has to go through a trial week, and if anyone […]

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A few words about my final Silver Arts Award project

By Ryan White (age 16) I conducted a portrait workshop in late June last term. The main purpose of it was for the final project of my Arts Award, in which I had to conduct and review my own leadership event. The focus of my Arts Award was portraits and so the workshop naturally involved them; personally I really enjoy drawing portraits and trying to create the likeness of a person. Through the workshop I aimed to share that passion with my peers. The workshop included two activities, the main one and a warm up. In the warm up I […]

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Adur and Worthing council visit

Adur and Worthing council visit

Review by SML College student, Luka Last week (the end of June), two council members from Adur and Worthing visited. They were seeking to improve their website for young people and to learn how to better contact them about the many activities they have to offer. First off, they did a quiz, to how much we knew about the council’s responsibilities. They ranged from checking restaurants food is safe to stocking up the ice cream in Worthing theatre. After that, we went onto their website and tried to find different bits of information to see how easy it is to […]

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AOH visit & collage workshop

AOH visit & collage workshop

Review by SML College student Elai During Brighton Festival we had the pleasure of visiting one of the Artists Open Houses. Sophie Wake, winner of last years ‘best newcomer award’ and mother to one of the students at SML college, kindly invited us into her home. We got to see and appreciate her artwork, which mainly consisted of oil and watercolour paintings. The main subjects in her paintings are animals; from horses to birds and all creatures in between, she does this in an attempt to express human tenderness through the expression of those to whom she can relate.  Personally, […]

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A few words from stained-glass artist & College Programmes Coordinator, David Lilly

A few words from stained-glass artist & College Programmes Coordinator, David Lilly

I only wish SML had been around when I was at school…. Those were my first thoughts after I had read the job advert and watched the YouTube video. Being colour-blind I had been told in no uncertain terms that pursuing a career in the arts was a complete waste of time for me. Even though I loved (and still do) making ‘stuff’ and drawing and painting abstracts in oils I was not going to become at artist – according to my school. So, many, many years later (and with some glee) I defied my teachers and became a stained-glass […]

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Published in the newspaper this week

Published in the newspaper this week

I’m glad that your correspondent Pauline Hunter (Japan can teach us a lesson, i, 22 June) is in favour of school children cleaning their classrooms. Our students do that and more. Every day they vacuum all areas, dust, mop the floors in the toilets, wash up in the kitchen and so on. They do this because we have a joint resources committee of students and adults that decides on finances for the building. The students understood that cleaning would cost money so they agreed to do it provided that money saved was then available for extra learning resources and for […]

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