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Keeping promises : strong democracy for a new writing workshop class Inglis, Patrick

Abstract

The writing workshop is a popular approach to writing instruction in elementary and secondary schools. This is true, in part, because its principles and methods reflect writing as practiced by real authors, but also because its advocates suggest that by using a workshop approach teachers can develop the values of good citizenship in their students and promote democratic communities in their classrooms. This study does not dispute that a workshop approach used to teach writing as a process and balanced with more systematic instruction in written conventions can improve students' writing competencies and increase their confidence in writing performances. However, it finds misleading the second claim that the workshop helps teachers engender citizenship and promote community in preparing students for democracy and suggests that a workshop can prove counterproductive in achieving these objectives.. Philosophical and theoretical in nature, this study outlines the concept of "strong democracy" argued by Benjamin Barber and argues for its application in new, strong democratic workshop classrooms that will allow teachers to better prepare students for citizenship and to establish the type of classroom community necessary for achieving this important goal.

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