The Primary Classroom as the First Democratic Space

Table of Contents


If we wish the citizens of the future to be active citizens, and to use their voice and actions to transform our society into a better place, then we must change the way we are teaching them, right from the word go, at Preschool and at Primary levels.

Rather than sitting quietly and doing as they are told, children should perceive the classroom as a democratic place where they have a voice and a vote, every activity involving and implementing fairness and choice. Teachers should reward pupils’ autonomy, creativity, and positive attitudes, as well as their knowledge.

This course aims to demonstrate how the classroom can reflect and emulate a just society, giving children a real living experience of the workings and processes of democracy.

Working with classroom activities that promote emotional intelligence, creative thinking, and active listening, we experiment with how to assist children to express and fulfill their needs, desires, and aspirations, without crushing or dismissing those of others. 

Participants will discover how to trial a style of classroom management in which children participate democratically: choosing the order of the activities, creating the classroom rules, taking the register, setting up and judging competitions and games, deciding what to write, what to draw, and how to act, with the reassurance that their grades will value the way they think and act, as well as what they know.

Concept by: Carlo Cecconi

Learning outcomes

The course will help the participants to:

  • Promote collective responsibility through democratic classroom practice;
  • Engage in the process of positive communication;
  • Use creative practices to build a community;
  • Incorporate democratic values into preschool and primary;
  • Connect childhood education with the community.

Tentative Schedule

Day 1 – Course introduction

  • Introduction to the course and the week activities. Presentations of all participants contexts;
  • An overview: What is democracy? What elements are desirable to reproduce in the classroom?
  • Icebreaker activities using drama for ensemble building.

Day 2 – Approaching creativity and the discovery of self

  • Encouraging self-discovery;
  • Activities which develop emotional intelligence and the creative capacities of each individual;
  • By understanding who they are, developing opinions and understanding how their culture is similar to and different from others, children gain the confidence to contribute their unique perspective to the group.

Day 3 – Valuing a positive attitude towards cooperation

  • Starting from the Gestalt psychology concept “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”, we reflect how to assess and evaluate attitude, cooperation, competence and collaboration as well as content knowledge;
  • We debate how to share this vision with parents and with the wider educative community.

Day 4 – Communication and classroom management

  • Strategies and methods of peaceful communication, through understanding the other;
  • Practical case studies and experiments in how to put a participative style of learning into practice;
  • Giving responsibility to learners without the teacher losing control.

Day 5 –  Democracy and Theatre

  • Role play and drama games. How would I react if (…);
  • Applying the course contents to your context: Design a step-by-step project for your own classroom or school.

Day 6 – Course closure & cultural activities

  • Course evaluation: round up of acquired competences, feedback, and discussion;
  • Awarding of the course Certificate of Attendance;
  • Excursion and other external cultural activities.

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