Students' Experiences During Democratic Activities at a Canadian Free School: A Case Study

Students' Experiences During Democratic Activities at a Canadian Free School: A Case Study

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Title: Students' Experiences During Democratic Activities at a Canadian Free School: A Case Study
Author: Prud'homme, Marc-Alexandre
Abstract: While the challenge of improving young North Americans’ civic engagement seems to lie in the hands of schools, studying alternative ways of teaching citizenship education could benefit the current educational system. In this context, free schools (i.e., schools run democratically by students and teachers), guided by a philosophy that aims at engaging students civically through the democratic activities that they support, offer a relatively unexplored ground for research. The present inquiry is a case study using tools of ethnography and drawing upon some principles of complexity thinking. It aims at understanding students’ citizenship education experiences during democratic activities in a Canadian free school. It describes many experiences that can arise from these activities. They occurred within a school that operated democratically based on a consensus-model. More precisely, they took place during two kinds of democratic activities: class meetings, which regulated the social life of the school, and judicial committees, whose function was to solve conflicts at the school. During these activities, students mostly experienced a combination of feelings of appreciation, concernment and empowerment. While experiencing these feelings, they predominantly engaged in decision-making and conflict resolution processes. During these processes, students modified their conflict resolutions skills, various conceptions, and their participation in democratic activities and in the school. Based on these findings, the study concludes that students can develop certain skills and attitude associated to citizenship education during these activities and become active from a citizenship perspective. Hence, these democratic activities represent alternative strategies that can assist educators in teaching about citizenship.
Date: 2011
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/19765
Supervisor: Reis, Giuliano
Faculty: education
Degree: ma

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