A fully democratic school is one where students are trusted to take responsibility for their own lives and learning, and also for the school community. At such a school, students choose their own activities, including what, when, how and with whom to learn, play and generally spend each day. If courses are offered, students are free to take them or not, although they may be expected to complete a series of classes to which they have commited. They may even request instruction from the staff; however, adult staff members at a democratic school are there to help, not direct. The staff members teach, in the broad sense of the term, but so do students.
The staff members at a democratic school are usually not called “teachers,” because there is recognition that students commonly learn more from one another—as they play, explore, socialize and work together in age-mixed groups—than they do from the adults. Many democratic schools are also administrated democratically, usually through weekly School Meetings at which each student and staff member has one vote, although attendance is generally not required.