Longitudinal Development of Educational Theory: A democratic classroom

Year: 2000

Author: KNIGHT, T

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Presented is a democratic education paradigm. It presents seven attributes for consideration. While intrigued by contemporary critical social analysis on democratic schooling, it is held to be inadequate for informing present policy and analysis.

In general critical analysis draws from abstract theorising, seldom from grounded theory. A central feature of this proposal is the preparation of students for solving individual and pressing social problems. Educational theory comes in all shapes and sizes. There are theories of knowledge, development, learning, instruction, discipline, management and organisation. What passes for theory in most classrooms is bits and pieces taken from all, or some of those mentioned. There appears for example little correspondence between the theory of knowledge and theory of instruction or discipline. This is the culmination of three decades of work in grounded theory, and characteristic of this work has been the application of democratic principles to action research. It is replete with hard won successes and very difficult setbacks. As a general theory it has a long way to go. From the outset of this research it has held that an ideal democracy is an unattainable goal. Democracy can only be a hypothetical vision used to measure progress, much as infinity does in mathematics. Whether any practice is an asset to a democratic classroom can be determined by how it measures on each of the proposed attributes. Doubt is cast whether democracy is 'discovered', instead, advocated is that democracy is continually invented.