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The Democratic Classroom: Sharing Power to Improve Learning and Educate Citizens
Unformatted Document Text:  Democratic Classroom 12 In the second half of the century, Paulo Freire (2000) advocated a radical pedagogy in which the oppressed could find liberation through education. Freire also criticized the “banking system of education” similar to the instructor-centered approach in that information is preselected and “deposited” into the minds of students rather than the students making knowledge their own. More recently, bell hooks (1994) has combined Freire’s views with a feminist pedagogy. According to hooks, teaching and learning are most certainly political acts that should challenge power structures that marginalize and disenfranchise individuals not in the dominant group. Teaching to Transgress offers a clear example of what such a participatory democratic classroom looks like. In this section, I examine three recent leaner-centered approaches to higher education that view one of the primary goals of this pedagogy to be the development of effective democratic citizens: Baxter Magolda believes that students should be educated for “self-authorship” through “learning partnerships”; Cranton outlines the theory of “Transformative Learning” developed in the field of adult education; and Brookfield and Preskill defend discussion as a way of teaching through the lens of critical political theory. While each of these approaches are not entirely new and have some overlap, they provide a good mix of both theory and practice for instructors looking for a way to explicitly connect citizen education and a learner-centered pedagogy. Self-Authorship and the Learning Partnerships Model As a learner-centered approach to higher education, self-authorship is grounded in the constructivist theory of learning, which contends that students learn best when they are able to make knowledge their own. Self-authorship adds developmental psychology to constructivism through asking “how learners interpret their experience.” “Constructive developmentalists argue for connecting teaching to student’s ways of making meaning in order to create the conditions to

Authors: Price, Christopher.
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Democratic Classroom 12
In the second half of the century, Paulo Freire (2000) advocated a radical pedagogy in which the
oppressed could find liberation through education. Freire also criticized the “banking system of
education” similar to the instructor-centered approach in that information is preselected and
“deposited” into the minds of students rather than the students making knowledge their own.
More recently, bell hooks (1994) has combined Freire’s views with a feminist pedagogy.
According to hooks, teaching and learning are most certainly political acts that should challenge
power structures that marginalize and disenfranchise individuals not in the dominant group.
Teaching to Transgress offers a clear example of what such a participatory democratic classroom
looks like.
In this section, I examine three recent leaner-centered approaches to higher education that
view one of the primary goals of this pedagogy to be the development of effective democratic
citizens: Baxter Magolda believes that students should be educated for “self-authorship” through
“learning partnerships”; Cranton outlines the theory of “Transformative Learning” developed in
the field of adult education; and Brookfield and Preskill defend discussion as a way of teaching
through the lens of critical political theory. While each of these approaches are not entirely new
and have some overlap, they provide a good mix of both theory and practice for instructors
looking for a way to explicitly connect citizen education and a learner-centered pedagogy.
Self-Authorship and the Learning Partnerships Model
As a learner-centered approach to higher education, self-authorship is grounded in the
constructivist theory of learning, which contends that students learn best when they are able to
make knowledge their own. Self-authorship adds developmental psychology to constructivism
through asking “how learners interpret their experience.” “Constructive developmentalists argue
for connecting teaching to student’s ways of making meaning in order to create the conditions to


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