The Empty Classroom: What role does democracy have in education? By Kate Hennessey One main goal of education is democratic citizenship. Democracy is based on the core foundation of human nature, choice. Democracy begins with decision making, exercising one’s freedom of choice, yet with respect to the millions of other people on the planet. While learning to uphold, honor, and celebrate our democracy, students must learn to be effective decision makers. In order to become informed decision-makers, students need to learn to listen, think about challenges from multiple perspectives, and work collaboratively as a group. Is this what students learn in school? To become a good decision-maker, one must practice making decisions on a regular basis by thinking in depth, understanding multiple perspectives that form a collective effort, and relating knowledge to the real-world outside the classroom. Is this what students practice at school? Are classrooms democratic? Do students get to practice decision-making and thinking for themselves? If we as a nation value our democratic society, we must ask ourselves how students truly learn to be part of a democratic group where they have choice, but make their own decisions as part of a larger whole. Does our education system give students