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The Democratic Classroom: Sharing Power to Improve Learning and Educate Citizens
Unformatted Document Text:  Democratic Classroom 16 more voluntary, self-directed, experiential, and collaborative than the way children learn (Cranton, 2006, pp. 2-5). These factors also make adult learning theory learner-centered since the focus of the student’s experience is on the self and how the self interacts with the world. Cranton identifies “two dimensions underlying the different perspectives on adult learning” (2006, p. 10) that inform transformative learning theory. The first is that such learning allows for both individual development and social change. Rather than seeing these as opposed goals, Cranton encourages us to see them along a continuum. The other dimension of adult learning is to view knowledge as existing in three types: technical, practical, and emancipatory. While technical (how to) and practical (collaborative) knowledge can lead one to transform their view of their self and the world, theses types of knowledge do not guarantee this outcome. Emancipatory knowledge denotes the ability to be critical of both our self and the world and thus builds on the other forms of knowledge to fundamentally change one’s point of view. Cranton uses a personal example to show how transformative learning occurred when she achieved emancipatory knowledge after the acquisition of a technical skill. “When I first learned Blackboard and WebCT (software programs for online teaching), I acquired instrumental knowledge, but I revised my perspective on what good education is as a result” (2006, p. 14). Transformative learning cannot be imposed on students; instead, it is similar to the learning partnerships model, since individuals have to achieve it on their own terms. This fact creates a dilemma for educators who want to foster transformative learning since some teaching techniques that lead certain students toward transformation might not work for others. For example, Cranton identifies learner empowerment as crucial to transformative education. She cautions though “that what we think of as empowering is not necessarily what learners think is empowering” (Cranton, 2006, p. 119). Therefore, rather than offering specific teaching tips,

Authors: Price, Christopher.
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Democratic Classroom 16
more voluntary, self-directed, experiential, and collaborative than the way children learn
(Cranton, 2006, pp. 2-5). These factors also make adult learning theory learner-centered since
the focus of the student’s experience is on the self and how the self interacts with the world.
Cranton identifies “two dimensions underlying the different perspectives on adult
learning” (2006, p. 10) that inform transformative learning theory. The first is that such learning
allows for both individual development and social change. Rather than seeing these as opposed
goals, Cranton encourages us to see them along a continuum. The other dimension of adult
learning is to view knowledge as existing in three types: technical, practical, and emancipatory.
While technical (how to) and practical (collaborative) knowledge can lead one to transform their
view of their self and the world, theses types of knowledge do not guarantee this outcome.
Emancipatory knowledge denotes the ability to be critical of both our self and the world and thus
builds on the other forms of knowledge to fundamentally change one’s point of view. Cranton
uses a personal example to show how transformative learning occurred when she achieved
emancipatory knowledge after the acquisition of a technical skill. “When I first learned
Blackboard and WebCT (software programs for online teaching), I acquired instrumental
knowledge, but I revised my perspective on what good education is as a result” (2006, p. 14).
Transformative learning cannot be imposed on students; instead, it is similar to the
learning partnerships model, since individuals have to achieve it on their own terms. This fact
creates a dilemma for educators who want to foster transformative learning since some teaching
techniques that lead certain students toward transformation might not work for others. For
example, Cranton identifies learner empowerment as crucial to transformative education. She
cautions though “that what we think of as empowering is not necessarily what learners think is
empowering” (Cranton, 2006, p. 119). Therefore, rather than offering specific teaching tips,


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