Democratizing the Classroom: Sequencing Discussions and Assignments to Promote Student Ownership of the Course

This article explores a radical pedagogical method for democratizing the classroom that generates rich, engaged, student-led discussions. The approach is grounded in the notion that democratic participation in the classroom is a worthy goal of radical pedagogy, that students must be adequately prepared in order to take on greater responsibility in the classroom, and that greater learning occurs when students take a more active role in the learning process. Careful sequencing of discussions and assignments is used to turn over responsibility for the course to students gradually, without sacrificing the depth and sophistication that instructors want to achieve in the classroom. The result is a classroom in which all students participate and in which thoughtful, informed discussion and debate is the primary mode of engagement. Early in my career, I found student presentations and student-led discussions to be dull and uninspired much of the time. However, by carefully structuring assignments so that students are adequately prepared, I have found it possible to turn over more and more of my classes to students while still covering the material at a sophisticated level and maintaining an engaged, interactive classroom.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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