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Classroom Discourse and Democracy

Making Meanings Together


Susan Jean Mayer

This book provides practitioners and scholars with a number of practical tools for studying and implementing democratic learning processes within schools, and theorizes these tools in relation to current developmental learning and democratic theory. Three dimensions of knowledge are framed – foundational, expert, and personal – and the place of each in the construction of democratic classroom understandings is explored. Based on a two-part analysis of the roles students played in a number of pedagogically diverse classroom discussions, three different forms of learning experience are then presented – teacher-led, student-led, and co-led learning. While all three forms of learning experience are seen as valuable to a fully realized democratic pedagogy, each form is shown to possess a distinctive set of affordances and constraints in relation to the many varied challenges involved in fostering children’s academic growth and learning.