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)
MTO 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.
VILLAGE in Moldova – “Together for Active Citizenship”, 2010
In Moldova, civic education is obligatory for students in the 5th through 12th grades. Despite this fact, studies done have shown that civic education that is not participative has a limited impact on the development of democratic attitudes and behaviors. Alongside bookwork, students must be given opportunities to work together and be engaged in solving real community problems.
Local public administrations and civil society organizations in Moldova, have the mission to educate and engage youth in civic action—the very mission of the civic education curriculum. Therefore, a recognized relationship should exist between formal classroom study and the goals of the local public administration and the NGO community. Civil society organizations have the opportunity to be working together with schools to enable students to learn in their domain of expertise while accomplishing the civic education curriculum goals.
VILLAGE in Latvia, 2008
Four Latvian teachers from rural areas attended a 5-day training in the VILLAGE Program run by MTO trainers in August in Nowy Sacz, Poland. This activity was a component of the Latvian Rural Forum’s project, “Acquisition of Non-Formal Education Possibilities in Rural Areas”, whose aim was to provide an opportunity for rural people to obtain and use interactive, participatory tools in local development planning, promoting economic diversity,acquiring entrepreneurial skills and motivating individuals to create small business and compete in the labor market.
VILLAGE in Poland – “Village Schools Can”, 2010
This project served to introduce this innovative, international program to elementary schools in the Malopolska Province. The programs uses interactive methods to deepen students’ educational experiences, prepare them for active participation in public life and help them become socially responsible.
VILLAGE in Rural Moldova, 2005
27 teachers participated in the VILLAGE workshop to prepare them to run this after-school program with students between the ages of 8-12 years old. VILLAGE teaches self-government and social responsibility. The project coordinator for this activity was Alexander Lupu, a graduate of the AYSE 2004 program. The activities took place in a local school in Calaraš (population: 3000).