Unleashing the Power of Passion: The Benefits of a Democratic Classroom Experience

Robin Harwick, Ph.D.
3 min readFeb 8, 2023
Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

The world has changed tremendously, and with each passing day, the traditional classroom learning model is becoming increasingly irrelevant. In place of the antiquated educational system, innovative approaches to education, ones that prioritize student autonomy and give young people the tools they need to navigate the 21st century, must be embraced. One approach that is already well-studied is democratic education. It is quickly gaining popularity among educators and parents alike.

The best part of a democratic classroom is the freedom it offers students to be themselves and explore their interests. Unlike traditional schools, where students are often told what to learn and when to learn it, democratic classrooms allow students to explore their interests and passions. This freedom of choice increases motivation, engagement, and academic success — it is one of the key differences between democratic and traditional education.

I see my students “light up” when they can choose their writing assignment topics. Instead of feeling like the task is a chore, my students get excited about writing, and they are eager to share their work with their peers. This excitement is not limited to writing; it extends to all curriculum areas, from art to math.

Another important aspect of democratic education is the dynamic between students and teachers. In traditional schools, the teacher holds all the power, dictating what students learn, when they learn it, and how they learn it. This power dynamic can stifle creativity and autonomy, leading to disengagement and poor academic performance. In democratic classrooms, the teacher’s role is transformed from one of authority to one of facilitator. Teachers are there to help students achieve their goals and support them in their learning journey.

The students in my democratic classrooms want to come and look forward to it. Yesterday, they didn’t want to leave when class was over! This is because we were discussing a topic they knew a lot about but wanted to learn more about! They also know their opinions and ideas are valued. This sense of ownership over their education gives students a sense of pride and confidence, helping them to develop into responsible and self-directed learners.

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Robin Harwick, Ph.D.

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