Education for Democracy: Real Change Is Messy—and Worth It

By Rosie Corr ’19 and Josh Tnoe ’19

This is the second in a series of blog posts that highlight Athenian’s Pillars, the foundational values that we share with all Round Square schools. This second installment is a speech about democracy delivered by Rosie and Josh at Morning Meeting to the Upper School.

Josh: When we hear democracy, a lot of us think about our government, and all of the positives and negatives that come with it. But democracy is a lot more than the body that governs. It is the people—the community. To me, democracy means being involved in the community instead of being complacent. It means being outwardly focused on the community around you, and working to make sure your voice is heard and that changes are made where they are due. It means not taking no for an answer, and fighting for what is right and what you deserve.

Ben Granat ’19, Rosie Corr ’19, and Josh Tnoe ’19 worked together on a Democracy in Action class project about Town Meeting at Athenian

Rosie: There are plenty of opportunities for formal democracy on this campus—Town Meeting, our renamed Forum meeting, class or club leader elections, and so much more. But some of the most powerful change is made when you don’t take the beaten path. Real change is made by passionate individuals who aren’t afraid to take a stance and get their hands dirty. There is often a misconception around Athenian that it is possible to make democracy a quick and easy process, something that can happen in an hour, from idea to implementation. And when that doesn’t happen, we feel discouraged and disenfranchised. But that is real education for democracy.

Josh: Learning that democracy isn’t easy is the first step. It is difficult, and it is messy, but for those willing to really fight for what they believe in, it can actually have a substantial impact on the school you and your friends attend, giving you real change without the backtracking and empty promises.

Rosie: It’s also why Democracy in Action is one of the most challenging, yet most interesting and rewarding courses you’ll ever take. And that is why I am so proud to be part of a school that embraces education for democracy and lets the students speak truth to power; without our voices, Athenian couldn’t really be Athenian. Thank you.