How to Teach Students Democracy in the Classroom

How to Teach Students Democracy in the ClassroomChildren are introduced to the principles and values of democracy at home and reinforced in schools. As teachers, we play a fundamental role in educating the youth about democracy and civics. By ensuring a democratic classroom, students are better able to grasp the founding the principles of our nation.

It is ironic, however, how we emphasize the importance of democracy in a civilized society but do not really practice it in the classroom. Some schools and classrooms don’t seem to be run and managed in a democratic way. Students, especially in the high school, are often quick to voice this out.

Authoritarian vs democratic classroom

While we advocate the values of constitutional freedom, students may feel that their liberty is stifled by the school’s or classrooms’ stern authoritarian structures. Often, students attempt to test the limits of their rights by contradicting rules or airing their views.

It is a given fact that every educator possesses a different philosophy and teaching style. There are educators who manage the classroom in authoritarian way, using their power and position to dictate classroom dynamics and control their students. Unfortunately, an authoritarian structure in the classroom can disempower students, and can even suppress learning of essential skills such as critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration.

The direct opposite of an authoritarian classroom is a democratic classroom. This classroom dynamics encourages participation of students and control is not solely at the hands of the teachers or school authorities. Students are empowered to share in the responsibility of managing their classroom, thus they are more intrinsically motivated. Studies have shown that democratic classrooms are more effective in student’s learning.

Living out democracy in the classroom

Instead of just including “democracy” in teaching modules, schools and classrooms should live it. We, teachers, are at the forefront in molding the future of our nation. And we can do this by practicing democracy in the classroom and moving away from the traditional, authoritarian teaching.

The principles of democracy can be practiced in the classroom by asking students about their ideas and views. Encouraging dialogue and discussions about certain classroom issues also foster democracy. Decisions can be derived after a vote or after coming up with a consensus among the students. Perhaps, one of the most tangible ways by which students can understand democracy is through empowering student governments.

Introducing students to national issues and encouraging them to act is also an effective way of teaching democracy at school. In one of my classes, students decided to donate power tools, such as the framing nailer reviewed on, to displaced families in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. At an early age, students realize that they are part of a bigger society and the role they play in ensuring the welfare of many.

Teachers may use these concepts in varying degrees. We can also think of creative ways that can help students understand how democracy works.

In the end, our goal is to create a place where students can understand the true essence of democracy – a classroom where they can think, talk and act more democratically.

Democracy And Human Rights

Democracy And Human RightsIn democratic societies such as the United States and much of Europe, it is important that human rights are recognized because if they’re not it causes problems such as poverty, crime, broken families, rise in mental health issues and problems in the education system. The government is responsible for creating laws that allow for the fair treatment of individuals so that everyone can get along in the world without too much tension, that may become harmful. Nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups exist for the purpose of giving people an education about what their rights are and about ethical values that promote a better life for all.

[Read more…]