Democratic Education in Universities: Pushing at the Boundaries

Max Hope


In a recent opinion piece in The Guardian, democratic education advocate Rachel Roberts posed the questions of “why not put children in charge of their schools?”  (Roberts, 13 March, 2017). There were over 300 responses within the first week, many of which were thought-out and considered responses, some in support and some in opposition. A sizeable proportion of these echoed the view of one contributor who simply stated: “For the same reason you don’t put inmates in charge of their prison.”

This is an interesting analogy which implies that the power dynamic between teachers and students is akin to that of prisoner officers and prisoners....


Educational alternatives; progressive education; alternative education; difference; educational theory; educational philosophy; home education; education policy


Brooks, R., Byford, K. & Sela, K. (2015). The changing role of students’ unions within contemporary higher education. Journal of Education Policy, 30(2), 165-181.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Penguin Books.

Hecht, Y. (2011). Democratic education: A beginning of a story. New York: Alternative Education Resource Organization.

Hope, M. A. & Montgomery, C. (2016). Creating spaces for autonomy: The architecture of learning and thinking in Danish schools and universities. In Lees, H. & Noddings, N. (Eds.) The Palgrave international handbook of alternative education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Montgomery, C. & Hope, M. A. (2016). Thinking the yet to be thought: Envisioning autonomous and alternative pedagogies for socially just education. FORUM: for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education, 58(3), pp.307-314

Neill, A. S. (1962). Summerhill: A radical approach to education. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.

Roberts, R. (13 March, 2017). Utopian thinking: Why not put children in charge of their schools? The Guardian, Available:

Siig, A. & Heilesen, S. B. (Eds.) (2016). The Roskilde model: Problem-oriented learning and project work. New York: Springer. to be different...

Other Education works in association with the following partners:

and is sponsored by the silence and mindfulness App Calm Me Down

Please see copyright notice at the end of each published work for specifics.

ISSN: 2049-2162 © Other Business Ltd, 2012-2017. Other Education™ is a not-for-profit trading entity of Other Business Ltd whose registered office is: Bernard Rogers Accounting, Bank Gallery, High Street, Kenilworth. Registered in England: 08567212