Using Deliberative Techniques to Teach United States History

By Eleanora Von Dehsen; Nancy Claxton | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Deliberative Education

DELIBERATIVE EDUCATION DEFINED
Deliberative education is a set of methodologies that employ speech, communication, discussion, and debate in the classroom in order to maximize students’ participation in the learning process. Through redefining the role of a teacher in the educational process and challenging students with new tasks, deliberative methodologies engage students in the subject matter by providing an incentive to learn, assisting them in the process of application of knowledge, developing an array of skills, and providing them with a greater ability to adapt to the fast-changing realities of the modern world.Deliberative education includes a number of educational approaches: educational debates, role-play and simulations, discussions, and individual presentations. Deliberative education is a modern and innovative approach that effectively meets a number of educational goals:
1. Deliberative education engages students in the subject matter by creating an atmosphere conducive to active learning. The traditional educational methodologies are based on a formulaic, top-down method in which students are passive recipients of knowledge passed to them from teachers. Deliberative education is based on democratic dialogues between a teacher and the students, and among students themselves. This methodology opens students to new ways of thinking, allows independent study, promotes problem solving, and encourages free expression of ideas and student creativity. By emphasizing personal investigation and respectful confrontation of different and often opposing ideas in the public but safe setting of a classroom, deliberative education constitutes an educational antidote to the development of passivity and authority dependence among students.
2. Deliberative education offers a holistic and complex approach to learning. Traditional instructional methods are based on a consumer approach to learning, in which knowledge is measured only within the parameters of exam requirements, and it is assumed that students are often not interested in pursuing the depth and complexity of the studied issues. Deliberative education encourages in-depth analysis and examination of complex issues, through researching a variety of sources and reflecting on other areas of knowledge. Deliberative education provides students with an incentive to critically analyze, evaluate, and respond to a variety of issues, thereby preparing them to become engaged and informed citizens in their adult lives.

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