They can explore and study real-world problems that impact their lives or the lives of people they care about. When students are passionate, they dig deep and dream big. They don’t let obstacles become deterrents to solutions. And that mindset is innate to students who attend democratic schools. With the ability to structure their own schedules and the option to focus solely on one subject, students can move beyond superficial exploration and understanding.
Many of my favorite TedTalks are by kids in other parts of the world where education isn’t formalized, but where issues that we take for granted like clean water, access to food, and electricity are still daily struggles. These kids see problems all around them. Some are courageous enough to find solutions. One of my favorites is Richard Turere who grew up in Kenya and at age 15 created a flashing LED light system that deters lions from getting near villages and livestock without the need to kill them. Simple, effective, and easy to implement.