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Experiencing Democratic Education: Political Theory and Public Achievement
Unformatted Document Text:  Hildreth 15 alternative. Jasmine’s comment was typical, “It was interesting. I’ve never been given that opportunity before. It’s kind of been like you study this, you take a test on this, and this will be your grade at the end. I don’t know, I thought it was weird [that we got to make this decision].” All students found the act of grading themselves difficult. Not only was it difficult to assess their own work (they were given criteria, but did not have any basis for comparison), but this was a morally laden exercise. Jasmine continued, “We had to be honest with ourselves! You know, like it’s just so easy, to like yeah, I’m gonna give myself an A, you know like I need an A to, to bring up my GPA. But then, you’re stuck, you’re stuck with a grading criteria, and you’re looking at your paper, and you’re just like, this paper is crap.” This pressure to be honest with themselves was intensified by the fact that the instructor would also grade their papers. Nonetheless, many students commented that this was a positive learning experience; interviews illustrated how they became more structured writers, better editors and more knowledgeable about the writing process. Most importantly, several students commented that their writing improved on subsequent assignments, which I noticed as well. 4 The third theme involves the relationship between class readings, classroom activities and practicum activities. The course was designed to include a number of different and sometimes conflicting theoretical perspectives. I emphasized that students carefully and critically read the texts, and put them into conversation with each other and the practical experiences of the class and practicum. All students were highly cognizant of this constant shifting, and some were excited about it intellectually. The following exchange is exemplary: Andrew: Well, that’s why the different approaches worked well. [That] the living through experience and learning experience … was … the foundation of the class was something that I understood really well. But [Roudy] brought in conflicting view points, so you never got too comfortable in the, just living, experiencing, if that makes any sense.

Authors: Hildreth, Roudy.
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Hildreth
15
alternative. Jasmine’s comment was typical, “It was interesting. I’ve never been given that
opportunity before. It’s kind of been like you study this, you take a test on this, and this will be
your grade at the end. I don’t know, I thought it was weird [that we got to make this decision].”
All students found the act of grading themselves difficult. Not only was it difficult to
assess their own work (they were given criteria, but did not have any basis for comparison), but
this was a morally laden exercise. Jasmine continued, “We had to be honest with ourselves! You
know, like it’s just so easy, to like yeah, I’m gonna give myself an A, you know like I need an A
to, to bring up my GPA. But then, you’re stuck, you’re stuck with a grading criteria, and you’re
looking at your paper, and you’re just like, this paper is crap.” This pressure to be honest with
themselves was intensified by the fact that the instructor would also grade their papers.
Nonetheless, many students commented that this was a positive learning experience; interviews
illustrated how they became more structured writers, better editors and more knowledgeable
about the writing process. Most importantly, several students commented that their writing
improved on subsequent assignments, which I noticed as well.
4
The third theme involves the relationship between class readings, classroom activities and
practicum activities. The course was designed to include a number of different and sometimes
conflicting theoretical perspectives. I emphasized that students carefully and critically read the
texts, and put them into conversation with each other and the practical experiences of the class
and practicum. All students were highly cognizant of this constant shifting, and some were
excited about it intellectually. The following exchange is exemplary:
Andrew:
Well, that’s why the different approaches worked well. [That] the living through
experience and learning experience … was … the foundation of the class was
something that I understood really well. But [Roudy] brought in conflicting view
points, so you never got too comfortable in the, just living, experiencing, if that
makes any sense.


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