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Three teachers explain how they promote democracy in their schools
In my school, formally, democratic citizenship, teaching and learning is part of all the education process. The school project includes an encompassing and interdisciplinary perspective of curriculum, which allows the promotion of citizenship education, both at formal and non-formal education praxis. Some obstacles to it are the lack of coherence between specific and disciplinary programmes and global democratic education methods. The teachers former education have been too technical and disciplinary. And for last, the evaluation methods is mainly summative. Tests are still a major part of school routine, and of the teaching learning machine. I always aimed and try to promote democracy in my classes, allowing students to choose to develop reasoning and critical views and to actively participate.
Quite often, democracy and participatory methods function. Students feel committed, engage and learn better.
I recognise that I’m equally responsible for my learning as a teacher. So they see responsibility. I take responsibility for my actions good or bad. And we all have responsibilities to promote and protect the well-being of others. So this is like one of the policies in our school. So all teachers are expected to promote democracy.
And I do feel like all teachers do promote democracy in the classroom. All pupils are encouraged to make choices appropriate to their ability and level of understanding. And at the same time they know that they can do this in a supportive and safe environment. In Key Stage 2 they recently did a topic on refugees. And they read the book, The Boy at The Back of The Class, and the children were really encouraged to look at the pros and cons of having refugees, and they were given the opportunity to be in the shoes of refugees, so to speak, and to see how it would feel like if they had to leave their country and become a refugee.
How so? A being a model for my students, the students are always looking at us, it doesn’t matter what I say, its more what I do. So as a philosophy teacher, I think it’s very important to be a model. And I love the Socratic method for doing so. On one hand for questioning everything, and the second hand for looking for the truth with my students. For me, that’s the most important to promote democratic education. Even though Socrates had some problems with democracy, of course. There’s no doubt that you cover those things.
And I can imagine that this will, this topic of refugees is going to be, continue to be one that we’re going to be discussing and children will be looking at, especially looking at the current situation with Afghanistan. So yeah, the reason how I learned about these topics being taught in our school, because all teachers have a duty to promote democracy in the classrooms is because then we do share good practise. So that’s really good. A good aspects of our school. In staff meeting, sharing good practise, and our school is committed to it. So how do I promote democracy in my classrooms? Obviously, with the older children, they can explore topics such as refugees and slavery.
Will I tell my students, I’m not here to make you adopt the ideas I will give you as your own, but to teach you a method for addressing things they will say. As a teacher once told me, I think this is important because for the promotion, dedication of democracy, it’s very important to teach them this humble attitude to listening to each other, and to give them a criteria for judgement.

Listen to Zeba, Noemia and Breo explaining how they promote democracy in their schools. And consider the following questions for discussion:

  • Who promotes democracy in each of the schools?
  • Are these teachers educating about, for or/and through democracy?
  • What of the six democratising practices are these teachers engaging with? (i.e. integration within subject areas, considering teaching and assessment methods, addressing the hidden curriculum, cross-curricular projects, democratic governance, working with the community)
  • Do you think the school is approaching the promotion of democracy in an integrated manner?
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Promoting Democracy in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Teachers

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