Using Democratic Education in the Classroom

Each time we give a presentation on democratic education we’re asked how it can be applied in a traditional classroom setting. The classroom is one of the least democratic spaces we encounter. Unsurprisingly, teachers and students alike want to move beyond its confining structure. Workshops and other non-traditional education settings are more easily reconfigured—at least the state isn’t mandating our curricula in those cases—but how can we make education more democratic for public schools and higher ed?

Our answer to this question is to rethink pedagogy. Teachers are permitted degrees of freedom with how they implement required curricula and simple exercises can make the experience more participatory and engaging for all. We employ some of the four exercises found in this article and we also learned a couple new ones.

If you are interested in introducing democratic education to your setting—whether it’s a classroom, nonprofit, or co-op—we’re here to help.

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