Reflections on the Democratic Classroom

  • Will Curtis University of Warwick
Keywords: Educational alternatives, progressive education, alternative education, difference, educational theory, educational philosophy, home education, education policy


From my perspective, democratic educational practices are dependent on particular notions of, and participants’ relationships with, knowledge.

It is difficult to conceive of authentic democratic classroom encounters in contexts where knowledge is perceived to be fixed, definitive, clean and predictable. In a Freirian sense, democratic education cannot be meaningful if knowledge is the preserve of the “expert” teacher, “banking” this knowledge in the “good” student who passively memorises all that is transmitted to her. While it might be perfectly possible to engage in seemingly democratic classroom activities, these are isolated, tokenistic and somewhat disingenuous without a commitment to a democratic perspective on knowledge.

I would argue that, in a democratic classroom, all actors...



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