Model Information

Democratic Discipline in Learning Communities - Edwards

Underlying Assumptions

  • Children of various ages can learn to express themselves in caring ways and develop good relationships with their peers and teachers.
  • With the help of their teachers, students can organize learning experiences of higher caliber, which have acceptable content and an appropriate level of sophistication.
  • Students can learn to satisfy personal and social needs effectively while internalizing critical human virtues and academically achieving at their highest potential
  • Children's natural way of learning is to constructively engage in inquiry in an effort to solve problems with which they are confronted.


  • Learning communities provide a valid way for satisfying students' needs.
  • Learning communities provide an authentic format for teaching students how to live successfully in a democracy.
  • Learning communities can enhance student relationships and prevent bullying.
  • Learning communities accomodate students' natural inclination to be self-governing.
  • Learning communities are compatible with constructivism, the most accepted learning theory.
  • Learning communities provide for authentic assessment of student achievement.
  • Learning communities provide a way for students to satisfy their legitimate interests, become intristically motivated, and achieve at higher levels.
  • Learning communities help student acquire skills in solving critical personal and social problems.
  • Students can become more able to validly regulate all activities in the classroom and protect the learning environment.


  • Promoting learning communities requires teachers to make adjustments in their behavior and teaching practices.

  • Considerable effort is required to make necessary adjustments to the teaching practices.
  • Forming a learning community requires considerable time and commitment.
  • Opposition can be expected from those who prefer schools to continue to function as they have traditionally.
  • Employing learning communities may run counter to individual teachers' inherent control inclinations.

Corrective & Preventative Discipline

  • Mostly preventative discipline carried out in the organization of the community and the development and maintenance of the relationships.
  • Discipline “problems” are handled at class meetings
  • When the group is functional, groups are self-monitoring and self-correcting.
  • Teachers do not overtly monitor students nor impose punishments or consequences
  • Teachers should lead, guide, and support students through discussions to deal with discipline problems.
  • Preventative discipline should start with class input into the rules/norms for behavior. The list might need to be reviewed and revised as issues come up in the classroom and as students become more familiar with this type of learning.

Other Important Information

Personal Reviews


I thought that democratic discipline was a good model. I like the idea of the teacher becoming a member of the community and having students run class meetings. I also like how students play an important part in their learning. I personally, however, would not use this model in an elementary setting.


I like how this model gets children actively involved in class discussions about preventing discipline problems and creating valid curricula. This ensures that students how what is expected of them and makes them more accountable for their actions.


One of the most unique things about this model was its focus on students being responsible for their own learning. I like that this model helps students acquire skills in solving critical personal and social problems. I do not think I would use this model in an early years setting.


I think the idea of a democratic classroom is beneficial for students. It allows students to take responsibility for their actions, but also lets them to see how communities work outside their classes. I also think that having a democratic classroom allows the students to interact in a way they wouldn't normally interact and show them how they have to work together to reach a solution. Though I like the model, I do not think I would use it in an elementary classroom. Young students are still learning how they should behave, whereas older students should know and would be able to make better use of this model.


I find it interesting that learning communities provide an environment in which powerful, natural learning processes can be promoted and acacdemic excellence fostered. They also provide a better way for promoting self-concept development and caring relationships among students and theit teachers and reducing the incidence of bullying, violence, and poor motivation.