Traditional education has taught us that the best place to learn and nurture one’s mind is in school where students learn from their teachers as well as from other students. With various changes in the education structure that has happened in previous years, more and more teachers as well as students find learning not just within the four corners of the classroom and through a single curriculum. The Internet has also paved a way for this modern day education system. Today, concepts like democratic teaching or teaching democracy and democratic education are slowly getting embraced. Below are the common characteristics and concepts behind democratic teaching or education:
• It is not a one-way form of learning.
Democratic teaching or education is based on the idea that a teacher must not be the sole provider of knowledge and the student, the recipient. Students must not be spoon-fed when it comes to their education. Traditional education on the other hand allows the students to even be non-participatory. Democratic education encourages students to participate in class or even become the source of information for the whole class to learn including their teachers. Teachers become class facilitators not the sole learning source. They do not monopolize talking in class. Students may even do the talking or the discussion for the benefit of the whole class.
• Education must not be a one-system-fits-all concept.
Teaching democracy was created because of the belief that each individual student has his own way of processing information and way of learning and that each student is unique. Thus, education must have various approaches tailored for every individual. Democratic education doesn’t have a curriculum to abide with. Curricula only make education suspended in a box. It is controlled. While this type of approach to learning may be demanding to individuals holding teaching positions; it will result to a more fulfilling job as students learn more effectively through tailored individual learning methods. Students tend to be more responsive and participative.
• There is no single source of information on a certain topic or lesson.
Students can actively search for information they need on a certain topic or lesson from various resources; not just from a single book provided by the curriculum. This enables student’s resourcefulness and encourages diligence in finding a solution to a certain lesson. There are a lot of educational websites on the Internet that a student can access to source out information from. The same can be done by teachers. When it comes to teaching methods and resources, they can access free teaching resources online. There are a lot of participative methods and teaching ideas that a teacher can get from the Internet through these teaching resources. Interactive games and quizzes can be used in the classroom setting which will be surely enjoyed by the students
• School is not a structure but a concept referring to any setup that facilitates learning.
Traditional school is boring and it only limits the potential learning any student can get beyond its walls. With democratic education, school can be anywhere as long as students are able to learn. It could be a small gathering of students and teacher under a tree or a trip to the museum of science where students see and learn new things that the four corners of school cannot possibly offer.
• Students actively participate in decision-making.
The system of democratic education also facilitates students’ participation in the decision-making process. They also have a voice and participation in teacher-student committees. They can impact educational planning and decisions. The power does not solely rest on the faculty or school’s administration. The students are a great part of the school and must be the participants when it comes to deciding about their education. Making their decisions known may be facilitated through student votes and participation in various school organizations and committees. The student council is an example of such.
• The youth is an active and powerful part of the society.
Another characteristic of a democratic education is a society with active participation of the youth. The youth are at the forefront of societal changes and campaigns that aim to improve youth learning as well as their leadership. Communities must have empowered and sustainable learning centers for the youth that will serve as a source of knowledge for them. This will discourage students and majority of the young people to be the cause of problems in the society. With the presence of improved learning centers and educational projects in the community, the youth will be directed to the right path towards becoming the community’s leaders and achievers in the near future.