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UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley Electronic Theses and Dissertations




Publication Date

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emphasizes community. We were not just students taking this class or students learning

how to dialogue with each other or students learning about social issues. It's always been

all of the above plus we were students trying to build a community to learn and then take

action about these issues... (Bell, post-class interview, August 2013)

Bell came into Ed 190 very involved on campus as an activist committed to social justice.

She articulated the above sentiments clearly about what made Ed 190 unique as compared to

other academic spaces going to work on social justice. What stood out for her as distinct from

other social justice spaces was our emphasis on community and interpersonal relationships. She


... and I think creating the community and really emphasizing that and then really having

it be like grassroots and people all have the power making the democratic education,

right? All of that creates a much more powerful and safe space for students to go deeper

than they would in other spaces that didn’t emphasize the community...there really was a

sense that we were all in it together and that we are all responsible for each other and

accountable to each other... (Bell, post-class interview, August 2013)

Bell's emphasis on the class being "grassroots" and focused on community, "we were all

in it together" is the catalyst that many experienced as a call for action. In his post-class

interview, six years after his initial learning experience in 190, Greg described his experience in

Ed 190 as "life-altering," and at the same time, something that he had been searching for but he

didn't necessarily know it at the time (Greg, post-class interview, August 2013). He pointed to

the way that people listened to each other in the room as unique, which was set up and modeled

by the facilitators.

He said he was able to see how he had grown up in school to assume dominance at the

expense of others. He said that this was a learned experience that he took on in order to "win"

inside the way the system is designed. He was generous in explaining the personal revelation that

allowed him to become a community member committed to equal voices, and ultimately

committed to equity in his life and in his career today.

Growing up in school, there’s always a couple of kids, including myself, who would just

sort of dominate the answers and it was almost like it was kind of a fear thing because

you never want to have the wrong answer, so it’s kind of a thing where you either just

step all the way back or you overly assert yourself, and it just sort of felt like that’s the

way it was… in order to get ahead, you had to assert yourself, you had to make yourself

seen. I feel like that’s just society, though, you have to make yourself seen. Part of the

reason I did so well in school wasn’t necessarily because I was the best student, it was

because a lot of teachers liked me. I knew what to say, how to engage with them, and that

transferred later on to life when I was working in the city. I knew who to schmooze with,

how to talk, how to really make it look like I was doing a really good job…(Greg, post-

class interview, August 2013)

In Ed 190, Greg experienced moving from fear and competition in the classroom toward

"being democratic" and this included taking action. According to him, this meant including the

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voices of all versus only the voices of the majority. Greg believes that his voice and action

became more authentic as he was able to relax, stop proving himself and, as he stepped back to

perspectives. He explained,

I no longer think that majority rule is the essence of a democracy. Democracy and

consensus are sort of this living, breathing process that continues to happen and continues

to change and adapt with the times

had this constitution written and stuff since 1776, but I feel like it has to be a living,

breathing document. What was written 300, or 250 years ago might not be the best

practices for today, if that makes sense. So I feel like, with consensus [as a practice in Ed

190], it [the learning community and systems created] was a living, breathing organism

that continued to change as we changed. (Greg, post-class interview, August 2013)

Through the experiential process of coming together and exploring democracy as a living

breathing process in a classroom community, the students experienced the principles of equity,

inclusion and justice firsthand and were able to see that the principles outlined in their class

mission statement (empathic investment in acceptance, positive discourse and growth,

democratic trust and responsibility; active-participation, collaboration, initiative, respect and

responsibility) (See Appendix D) were practices to be lived. He said, "I feel like with the

collective consciousness that emerges at the e I never took it as Ed 190 is over. I took it as


post-class interview, August 2013).

Another student who became a public interest lawyer after the class came into Ed 190

upon recommendation from her peers. An active woman on campus and an excellent student, her

sights were set high on achievement, including preparation and a plan for law school after

college. Up until Ed 190 she had not questioned the belief systems that she knew to be true or

had lived by for her entire young life. The content of Ed 190 bumped up against all "the truths"

(Daphne, post-class interview, March 2012) she had taken for granted in her life and it was

unsettling to her identity. She described it as being "traumatic" as she yearned to move through

the blind spots and move toward a deeper understanding of her current beliefs about society and

social and political issues toward the full embodiment of beliefs on her own terms. She said Ed

190 "lifted her blinders" (Daphne, post-class interview, March 2012).

Before Ed 190, I was always active in my community, in school, just life in general, but it

wasn't until Ed 190 that I became an activist...Ed 190 introduced me to a bigger world

with bigger problems, but a greater sense of fulfillment...Before I knew that I wanted to

go to law school, but it wasn't until Ed 190 that I was given the vocabulary and space to

solidify my own commitment in creating a just and equitable world...Without Ed 190, I

would not be where I am today, studying the type of law that I am studying, practicing

this type of law. (Daphne, post-class interview, March 2012)

Five years after her initial experience in 190, Daphne was in law school and teaching her

peers and professors alike the knowledge that she had learned and begun to embody so fervently

as a Ed 190 community member. She said she had become a social justice activist working on

public interest law. She was carving the public interest component of her law school program,

largely non-existent, she had advocated for and was developing a program for colleagues to

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First, read the article by Henry A. Giroux (handed out in class). What are his main arguments?

How does thi

Education 190? Is a course like Education 190 an important experience for university students to

have? Why or why not?

1. Reflect on the declarations we made as a community (see above). How did you fulfill on

these declarations? What did you learn about yourself as a result? What new insights do

you have about yourself as a learner, a participator and a contributor?

2. What have you learned about your past personal experiences with education that you

democracy as they relate to your own education? How will these insights inform your

future choices?

3. What issues addressed in this class directly correlate to your personal experiences? Please

refer to your personal account. What new analysis can you add to your account?

4. How has the class contributed to your ability to understand and to think critically about

the system of education in this country, the society we live in, and the world in general?

What connections did you make? Is there one issue that we discussed that plays a larger

role in schooling problems and social issues? How will you address it going forward?

5. How has the class empowered you to take action at any level as an active participant in

creating a democratic system? How did you make a difference this semester and how do

you plan to carry this action out into the world beyond UC Berkeley? How do you plan to

participate and make a difference in the future?

6. How would you evaluate yourself in relationship to the nine non-negotiables outlined on

the syllabus? Look at each one, what was your level of effort, and what did you get out of

e expectation in

any area, what do you think the impact was on you and on the community? Do you think

our SOA was an accurate method of assessing your achievement as an individual? How

about the class?

COOP- what experiences did you have that were the most insightful? What did these

experiences teach you about the educational system? If you could make your COOP into

a full-fledged long-term program, what changes would you make to it? How can you

sustain it?

READINGS- which class reading(s) did you relate to or learn the most from? What did

the author say and how did you find it inspirational?

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TEAM TEACHING- what did you learn from the experience of planning a lesson? What

did you learn about yourself as a facilitator and what it takes to implement effective


7. How does the community member you are now compare to the community member you

were at the beginning of the class? What risks did you take, what growth did you

experience? If you had complaints about the community, how did you express them?

Were your complaints productive and did you use them as a tool to contribute to others?

Can you take responsibility for any negative incidences (if they occurred)? From your

own growing experience, what advice would you give to a future Ed 190 student or


8. How do you understand the democratic approach to education that we attempted in this

class now? What is the purpose? Should the principles of democratic pedagogy be

brought to other university classrooms or other schooling spheres (K-12)? What parts of

the class most effectively demonstrated participation in a democracy? Which aspects can

be improved? How so?


structure? The requirements? What class activity did you enjoy the most? What did you

learn from it and how did it affect you?

10. Make suggestions for future creations of this class From your perspective, what worked

11. Anything else?? Be complete in your reflection.

You are an amazing and talented group of people and it has been great learning with you

this semester. WE have only just begun our inquiry. Please continue. The world awaits you.

Find out what makes you come alive and do that. “You must be the change you wish to see

in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Email with questions.

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