democratic deliberation, diversity, dialogue, integration, experiential learning, community


Key to teaching democratic thinking is actively engaging in the practice; and this, the article contends, is best facilitated by an experiential learning model where students are actively using, testing, and transforming not only the materials of the course, but also their own theories and experiences. Educators hoping to inspire democratic virtues and actions should also create and foster opportunities for community-building within the classroom by having students take more ownership for the class. This experiential process of learning disrupts the hierarchical theory-to-practice model traditionally implemented, reinforcing the value of an experiential and iterative practice of reflective engagement. In addition, such classes cannot neglect critical reflection and discussion of issues of power and oppression since democratic deliberation is at its core about engaging with others. To the extent that the traditional philosophic model limits the ways in which we come to understand one another’s positionality, we must seek to open valuable spaces for not simply thinking democratically, but also feeling and acting through a democratic spirit.


Original Citation: Danielle L. Lake. "Community Building in the Classroom: Teaching Democratic Thinking through Practicing Democratic Thinking" Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement 6.1 (2015): 5-24.