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Learning Democratic Citizenship: An Experiment in Teaching Deliberation
Unformatted Document Text:  Democracy Fellows were More Imaginative in Recognizing Possibilities for Deliberation and Applying Deliberative Knowledge and Skills to a Broad Range of Situations At the beginning and end of the study, we explored with the students various approaches to civic education, including service, traditional academics, teaching deliberative skills, and democratizing campus communities. The attitude of the cohort group concerning teaching deliberation in the service of citizenship was predictable, given their limited experience with it. The following quote typifies the lukewarm response to the prospects of deliberation conveyed by the cohorts: “It [deliberation] wouldn’t hurt.” Many lodged some of the same complaints that they had of democratizing the campus: “takes too much time,” “won’t produce action,” and “won’t appeal to students.” The Democracy Fellows, however, were full of praise for the potential of the model (i.e., for increasing political engagement, leveling the playing field, creating alternatives). Typical of their burgeoning critical skills, they were quite capable of critiquing the model as well. What was perhaps most striking about their deliberative imagination, however, especially at the end of their matriculation, was its expansiveness. Fellows allowed as how deliberation training had made them better students, improved oral and written communication skills, abated their anxieties about speaking up in class, prepared them for job interviewing, trained them for leadership in clubs, fraternities, church groups, and strengthened their interpersonal relationships through active listening and more careful responses. 12

Authors: Harriger, Katy. and McMillan, Jill.
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Democracy Fellows were More Imaginative in Recognizing Possibilities for Deliberation
and Applying Deliberative Knowledge and Skills to a Broad Range of Situations
At the beginning and end of the study, we explored with the students various
approaches to civic education, including service, traditional academics, teaching
deliberative skills, and democratizing campus communities. The attitude of the cohort
group concerning teaching deliberation in the service of citizenship was predictable,
given their limited experience with it. The following quote typifies the lukewarm
response to the prospects of deliberation conveyed by the cohorts: “It [deliberation]
wouldn’t hurt.” Many lodged some of the same complaints that they had of
democratizing the campus: “takes too much time,” “won’t produce action,” and “won’t
appeal to students.”
The Democracy Fellows, however, were full of praise for the potential of the
model (i.e., for increasing political engagement, leveling the playing field, creating
alternatives). Typical of their burgeoning critical skills, they were quite capable of
critiquing the model as well. What was perhaps most striking about their deliberative
imagination, however, especially at the end of their matriculation, was its expansiveness.
Fellows allowed as how deliberation training had made them better students, improved
oral and written communication skills, abated their anxieties about speaking up in class,
prepared them for job interviewing, trained them for leadership in clubs, fraternities,
church groups, and strengthened their interpersonal relationships through active listening
and more careful responses.
12


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