There is a scourge of disdain, distrust and disinterest people have for democracy right now. Motivated by a lot of different forces, this scourge is driven by politicians, media, and other engines of public pedagogy that teach, inform, lead, and compel people to hate the things we should care for the most for our collective good. Adam F.C. Fletcher of the Freechild Institute and J. Cynthia McDermott call this the Democracy Deficit Disorder. we’ve written a new book about it called Democracy Deficit Disorder: Learning Democracy with Young People, focused on how children and youth are fighting this disorder. The book comes out on May 31, 2023, from Peter Lang.
The following are tools including curriculum, training guides and more that can be used to teach children, youth and adults about democracy in classrooms, out-of-school time activities, and community settings.
Creating Youth/Adult Partnerships: Training Curricula for Youth, Adults and Youth-Adult Teams (2012) by Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development / National 4-H Council. – For those just beginning to explore youth-adult partnerships as a strategy for community and organization building, this book offers a step-by-step tools to prepare youth and adults to work as a team. Designed with even the most novice trainer in mind, this 6 – 8 hour curriculum leads youth and adults through activities to challenge preconceptions, explore benefits, assess readiness and build trust to strengthen their work in partnership.
SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum by Adam Fletcher for SoundOut (2012) – A collection of twenty-seven lesson plans, a facilitator’s guide, a student handbook and an evaluation guide designed to teach high school students about how they can become partners in changing schools.
“Learning to give: Teaching philanthropy in K–12” by Kathryn Ann Agard for New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising (2003) – This article summarizes a program in Michigan designed to infuse philanthropic giving into the K-12 curriculum throughout the state.
Empowered Voices: A Participatory Action Research Curriculum for Girls (2000) by Institute for Community Research – This toolkit looks at achieving gender balance in schools by engaging girl students as researchers. It focuses on girls’ development, self-esteem, strengthening relationships and helping build critical thinking and problem solving skills in schools. The program is based on social learning theory and was designed for use with Puerto Rican, African-American and Caribbean girls from at-risk neighborhoods.
“Ageism and adultism curriculum design” (2007) by Barbara J. Love and Kathleen J. Phillips in Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell and Pat Griffin. – This chapter explores what adultism is, what it does and why it matters in educational settings. The authors share activities for teaching about adultism and identify the possibilities of educating others about adultism.
The Co/Motion Guide to Youth-led Social Change by Alliance for Justice (1998) – Engaging youth in action, this user-friendly training manual is designed to engage young people in effective community action by giving them the tools, skills and strategies to solve problems and improve their communities.
The LifeSkills Handbook: An active learning handbook for working with children and adolescents by Clare Hanbury (2020) —This handbook provides advice and active learning activities for teaching life skills to children and adolescents. It supports and guides all people who plan, manage, teach or work on formal and non-formal education programmes. It can be adapted and used in different cultural contexts worldwide.
The Little Book of Youth Engagement in Restorative Justice: Intergenerational Partnerships for Just and Equitable Schools by Evelín Aquino, Anita Wadhwa and Heather Manchester (2021) — The purpose of this book is to illuminate a theory of youth engagement in restorative justice that seeks to create systems change for more equitable schools.
Youth Engaged in Leadership & Learning by the J. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University (2001) – Designed to help those training youth to become active contributors to decision-making processes in their community. Lessons in the handbook introduce youth to different research methods, analytical tools and presentation skills. The lessons can be adapted to meet the needs and interests of different communities, and can be facilitated by teachers and educators in school and out-of-school contexts.
Children as Partners in Planning (2000) by Lina Fajerman, Michael Jarrett, and Sutton Faye for the International Save the Children Coalition – This is a training manual aimed at childcare workers and professionals associated with Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships. This publication is based on the series of training workshops that were piloted with Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships. The sections in this publication include: an explanation of what consulting children involves; a choice of three training program with resources and handouts; case studies from a range of settings; activities to use with children; and information on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Youth/Adult Partnerships: A Training Manual (2003) by Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development – The basics of engaging youth and adults together, including the nuts and bolts of everyday activities.
Get the Word Out! (2000) by Karen Young and Jenny Sazama for Youth On Board – As adults, how do you help young people find their power? This booklet deals with the importance of young people taking on powerful positions in our organizations, with training exercises that will help groups think about the issues.
These are just some of the books to read against the Democracy Deficit Disorder right now. Do you have others to add? Please share them in the comments section below!
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Democracy Deficit Disorder
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