Cheering news that a kindergarten in Schleswig-Holstein is giving toddlers a say over things such as what games to play and which food to have for lunch. The Times quotes Kristin Alheit, the Social Democratic Party social affairs minister of Schleswig-Holstein:
“Young people can and should learn about democracy. When kids take part and are taken seriously, that shapes them for life.”
Indeed. In our jargon, this is student voice at work, except that these children don't talk about their preferences. Rather, glass beads are used for the votes. When deciding on which flavour of cake to have they are asked to place their bead on a table next to an apple, piece of chocolate or a lemon. They can also decide on wider school issues such as a new piece of playground equipment by delegating two class representatives who serve on the school kindergarten council.
Heike Schlüter, the deputy head of the school said that the children can differentiate between, and deal with, various situations very well. But she added that there were clear limits on what the children could decide for themselves and they would not be able to vote against items in the school constitution. Nor, presumably, in favour of changing the constitution.
The children had taken up their voting rights enthusiastically, Ms Schlüter said. The main stumbling block to a democratic kindergarten, she said, were the adults who were used to retaining all the power and were reluctant to adapt to the majority view. As accepting the tyranny of the majority is a key democratic principle, cake seems a good place to start.