Beyond the Silence: Listening for Democracy

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9780325000725: Beyond the Silence: Listening for Democracy

What is a democratic classroom? For Cynthia McDermott and her colleagues it is a place where all of the participants-students, teachers, and paraprofessionals-have a voice in the decisions that are made. It is not a place of chaos, nor is it a place where authority figures dictate and govern classroom life. It's an environment where deliberate, conscious, caring, and ethical decisions are made for the well-being of all.

In this, the first primer on democratic education, the contributors investigate some of the essential elements of a democratic classroom: reflection, self-evaluation, counseling, community building, consensus building, authentic projects, intrinsic practices. In each short chapter, teachers, teacher educators, and counselors reflect on what it means to teach for democracy-including Alfie Kohn, Peter McLaren, Shelley Berman, Hilton Smith, and others. Just as important, you hear from the students themselves, who explain why classrooms in which they have the freedom and opportunity to pose problems and work out solutions are the best environments for learning. Best of all, you'll discover strategies, ideas, suggestions, curriculum materials, and encouragement to help you get started or to enhance your current practices.

The ideas expressed in Beyond the Silence are all classroom based and holistic, drawing on the cognitive, the physiological, and the spiritual. The book poses questions and offers suggestions. It recognizes that there are many ways to create a democratic classroom and describes a variety of possibilities. But all of the authors are in agreement: A democratic paradigm is what is needed in our schools. Readers will find their voices convincing and knowledgeable.

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About the Author:

J. Cynthia McDermott is a professor in the School of Education at California State University--Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles.

Review:

“If you care about democracy, education, and the role of social responsibility, you should read this book.”–Herbert Kohl

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