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This article is the first of four articles exploring democratic schools co-founded by teenage students in Norway and Sweden. Our larger project explores the relationship between democracy in education and educational dialogism. Both democracy in education and educational dialogism are partially rooted in the idea that education should be a personal meaning-making practice where the participants can create and organize their lives in ways that make sense to them and explore their interests, values, and desires. We describe the processes of founding two schools – one in Oslo, Norway, and the other in Gothenburg, Sweden – in which students practiced the right to democratic governance. We describe the process of the founding of these schools against the background of the students’ movements in the late 1960s and the 1970s and the social and political conditions in Norway and Sweden at that time. We explore the students’ perspectives on the possibility, desirability, and legitimacy of the students’ voices in ethical-ontological dialogues in which the participants jointly examine their relationships with the world, with others, and with themselves. Further, we explore the forms of democratic school governance that Norwegian and Swedish students created and identified tensions that appeared between the legitimacy of individual students’ rights to ownership of their learning, teachers’ ownership of teaching, and the conventional normative educational policies in Norway and Sweden.
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