Creating a Democratic Classroom

Robin Harwick, Ph.D.
4 min readFeb 18, 2023
Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

In a classroom of the 21st century, educators look for ways to foster a democratic atmosphere where students can freely express themselves and enjoy the learning process. The emphasis in a democratic classroom is on student collaboration rather than rivalry. A democratic classroom is demonstrated at The Pearl Remote Democratic High School. Being a progressive institution, our core values include student-led learning and democracy. The way our school teaches has caught the attention of teachers worldwide who want to make their classrooms more inclusive and accessible for kids with different needs and ways of learning. I’ll share some of the lessons we’ve learned in the rest of this article so you can think about how you might use them in your classroom.

Lesson 1: Listen to Your Students
At The Pearl, we provide the space for students to have a voice in everything that impacts them. We encourage all of our students to disagree with us and to speak their minds. The teachers are attentive to their students’ thoughts, concerns, and suggestions, and they take them into account while planning the curriculum. Students feel heard and appreciated because of the collaborative learning environment created by this approach. As teachers listen to their pupils, they develop a sense of trust and respect, which encourages greater participation and engagement in the classroom. The Pearl has given students a sense of ownership over what they study and how they learn, which has increased their level of commitment to their education.

Lesson 2: Embrace Diversity
Teens from diverse nationalities, cultures, and belief systems make up the student body at The Pearl. We recognize and celebrate the unique contributions that each community member brings to the classroom. By accepting each student for who they are, we create a supportive environment where students feel valued and cared for. Instructors at The Pearl encourage intercultural awareness and teach students to appreciate many viewpoints by drawing on the diversity of our communities. In the curriculum, students’ backgrounds are taken into account. Additionally, when students feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing their wisdom from their lived experiences, they are more likely to engage in meaningful cross-cultural dialogue and learning.

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Robin Harwick, Ph.D.

Author, Educator, Researcher, Survivor, and Youth & Family Advocate. robinharwick.com