The Village program gives children a chance to practice the community building that adults around them are doing. The students create and govern miniature villages, which they build in a scale of 1:25. In doing so, they confront real world issues in a safe yet challenging setting. Every child needs to learn how to create community and how to find his or her place within it. The Village Project aims to empower primary school children as individuals, to give them a better understanding of community, and to help them learn how to build a world they wish to live in.
Many civic education program exist, but none give middle school pupils the comprehensive training in deliberative democracy that The Village Project does. Democracy means much more than simply voting. It is relatively easy to give pupils the chance to vote in the classroom, say for example between contesting two propositions. More difficult, and we believe more important, is to teach students to formulate their own options, discuss and resolve them.
Debating and decision-making at Village are not simply empty exercises. The program is not a simulation, but is instead tied to a real miniature world, the peeps and their society, that all the participants develop an affective tie to and concrete interest in. The Village program is an exemplary example of an educational program in which living and learning are inseparable.
- Village teaches children effective communication. Children learn to back their preferences and opinion with reasons. They improve their ability to express their own ideas and also learn to consider fairly the ideas of others which they might initially disagree with.
- Village teaches children critical thinking. Critical thinking at Village encompasses problem identification, formulation and resolution.
- Village teaches the civic values of tolerance as well as a concern for equality and justice. There are many school programs that emphasize rights and Village brings intellectually challenging issues to the forefront by putting rights in direct dialogue with democracy. For example, can a town decide to force someone to relocate their house in the interests, say, of urban design, or do that peep and person have a right to live undisturbed where they have been living?
- Village advances children’s school subjects knowledge. Under the belief that no child lacking literacy in math, language, and science can be fully part of his or her society we emphasize the use and advancement of knowledge from school subjects through practice. This occurs, for example, in the architectural design of the miniature houses and the writing of a town newspaper. (From www.villageproject.org)
Małopolskie Towarzystwo Oświatowe (MTO): www.mto.org.pl runs VILLAGE Program since 1995, first in Poland in partnership with The Village Project Inc. from New York, and then – more and more independently – in Slovakia, Moldova, Bulgaria and Latvia, as well as many international trainings for teachers in mixed groups.