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Education:  Learning to Rise above Poverty 14

and philosophies.  Each teacher has his or her own philosophy and pedagogical style, but those who implement this approach appear to be having successful classrooms, students, and increased student achievement.  They are taking theory and applying it to their practices, which is essential to teaching.  One theory to look at is Dewey’s concept of democracy in the classroom.  He saw classrooms as small societies in which students learn how to live with other members of society and live according to cultural norms.  He stated that when students are given the opportunity to make decisions and engage and interact in the classroom, they learn how to think critically and reason (Noddings, 1995).  Alfie Kohn (2006) stresses the importance of the classroom community and student choice as well.  These two things are especially crucial to “true” student learning.  This will enable students to feel involved in the learning process and will motivate them to learn.  If students simply sit all day and listen to teachers tell them what to do, then they will not be motivated to learn, engaged in the learning process, or have any desire to participate.  The well-being of students and what is appropriate for them needs to always be considered.  It seems as though many teachers only consider their own personal likes, dislikes, and expectations and reject those of the students.  This practice will not foster the desire to learn within the students and can eventually lead to a hatred of school and learning.   Students need to be involved in classroom decision-making and dialogue with the teacher and their peers.  This will lead to an effective learning environment as well as a class full of students who respect the educational setting of which they are required to be a part for a significant portion of their lives.   Kohn (2006) also stated that allowing students to make choices will promote compliance and minimize misbehavior and that misbehavior will diminish if the students feel less controlled.  This type of classroom

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