Creating and Sustaining a Democratic Classroom in the Presence of Market Ideology

ABSTRACT CREATING AND SUSTAINING A DEMOCRATIC CLASSROOM IN THE PRESENCE OF MARKET IDEOLOGY by © Annie S. Adamian 2010 Master of Arts in Education Curriculum and Instruction Option California State University, Chico Spring 2010 Equitable learning environments that empower, enlighten and promote lifelong learning for all students are rare in today’s American public schools. Addressing the need for a forum in which students begin to gain knowledge by the means of critical pedagogy has been silenced and dominated by the rigid discourse driven by market ideology. High stakes testing sustained through sanctions and incentives are promoting a culture of schooling which deems knowledge as a means to an end. In order for equitable learning environments to become a reality, democratic practice needs to come alive in the classroom. This study explores the ways to create and sustain an equitable learning environment by means of democratic practice. The author employs action research, using both qualitative and quantitative measures, and develops meaningful insight into how democratic practice can coexist within the context of market ideology. Seeking xi balance between the public (social reconstruction ideology) and private (market ideology) purposes of schooling was the foundation of this study. This study provided an emic perspective into four seventh grade life science classrooms. By linking theory and practice (praxis), action was taken to meet the needs of all learners, and the results show that it is possible to teach democratically in a system that is driven by market ideology.