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The Democratic Classroom: Sharing Power to Improve Learning and Educate Citizens
Unformatted Document Text:  Democratic Classroom 18 on society. Others view such a focus on the self as a “self-indulgent” behavior that “makes no real difference to anything” (Cranton, 2006, p. 45). Given this debate, Mezirow has seen fit to distinguish between educational and political tasks. While the latter seek to “force economic change” the former help “people become aware of oppressive structures and learn how to change them” (2006, p. 45). This distinction is not very useful since both acts are focused on social change. Perhaps the problem is that transformative learning theory is too broad and diverse to associate it with a more precise way toward citizenship education. It would therefore be more fruitful to look how two advocates of transformative learning specifically connect this type of learning to citizenship education. Discussion as a Way of Teaching Discussion is the learner-centered teaching method the most familiar to college instructor. Discussion is also the most direct (and seemingly less risky) way to share power with students. One can quite literally stop being the “sage on the stage” through encouraging students to talk about the material rather than telling them about it. But while discussion might represent the quickest route to learner-centered teaching, it is certainly not the easiest. The difficulty of discussion is due to the fact that it is not a “technique” but rather, to borrow from the title of Brookfield and Preskill’s (2005) book, a “way of teaching”. In order for discussions to be effective, you can’t simply place “students in circles and [tell] them to speak to each other” (Brookfield & Preskill, 2005, p. 37). Instead, discussions require a full arsenal of various techniques on how to prepare students to talk, ground rules for the way the discussion will proceed, and clear expectations about how discussions will be assessed and incorporated into the grading policy of the course. In addition, Brookfield and Preskill assert that discussion also

Authors: Price, Christopher.
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Democratic Classroom 18
on society. Others view such a focus on the self as a “self-indulgent” behavior that “makes no
real difference to anything” (Cranton, 2006, p. 45). Given this debate, Mezirow has seen fit to
distinguish between educational and political tasks. While the latter seek to “force economic
change” the former help “people become aware of oppressive structures and learn how to change
them” (2006, p. 45). This distinction is not very useful since both acts are focused on social
change. Perhaps the problem is that transformative learning theory is too broad and diverse to
associate it with a more precise way toward citizenship education. It would therefore be more
fruitful to look how two advocates of transformative learning specifically connect this type of
learning to citizenship education.
Discussion as a Way of Teaching
Discussion is the learner-centered teaching method the most familiar to college instructor.
Discussion is also the most direct (and seemingly less risky) way to share power with students.
One can quite literally stop being the “sage on the stage” through encouraging students to talk
about the material rather than telling them about it. But while discussion might represent the
quickest route to learner-centered teaching, it is certainly not the easiest. The difficulty of
discussion is due to the fact that it is not a “technique” but rather, to borrow from the title of
Brookfield and Preskill’s (2005) book, a “way of teaching”. In order for discussions to be
effective, you can’t simply place “students in circles and [tell] them to speak to each other”
(Brookfield & Preskill, 2005, p. 37). Instead, discussions require a full arsenal of various
techniques on how to prepare students to talk, ground rules for the way the discussion will
proceed, and clear expectations about how discussions will be assessed and incorporated into the
grading policy of the course. In addition, Brookfield and Preskill assert that discussion also


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