This is a bibliography of researches that have been done so far in the field of democratic education. It’s not complete, please tell us if you have some other research references!


Aiken, Wilford (1942).The Story of the Eight-Year Study: New York: Harper.

Avidan, Ramit (2014). ‘Observation from a different perspective’. Democratic schools in Germany a multiple case study. Masterarbeit an der Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education, Department of Education Policy and Administration der Universität Tel Aviv (hebrew, available in german soon)

Bennis, Dana (2012). Research on Freedom-based Education. link

Berg, Don (2013). Intrinsic motivation research thesis entitled, Enthusiastic Students: The Motivational Consequences of Two Alternative to Mandatory Instruction –

Chanoff, David (1981). Democratic Schooling: Means or End? Resolving the Ambiguity. In: The High School Journal, 64(4), 170-175

Cooper, Davina (2007). Opening Up Ownership: Community Belonging, Belongin

Darling, John (1992). A.S. Neill on Democratic Authority: A Lesson from Summerhill? Oxford Review of ducation,03054985, March 92, Vol. 18, Issue 1

Engel, Liba Hannah The Pedagogy of Janusz Korzak in the hadera democratic school: Early twentieth century reform in modern Israel – University of Wisconsin-Madison

Feldman, Jay (1997). The educational opportunities that lie in self-directed age-mixing play among children and adolescents. Paper presented at the Biennal Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington DC, 3.-6. April 1997

Feldman, Jay & Peter Gray (1999). Some educational benefits of freely chosen age mixing among children and adolescents. Phi Delta Kappan, 80, 507-512.

Feldman, Jay (2001).The moral behavior of children and adolescents at a democratic school. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Seattle, WA, April 10-14, 2001). ERIC ED453128.

Fielding, Michael & Peter Moss (2011). Radical Education and the Common School: A Democratic Alternative. London: Routledge.

Fielding, Michael (2005). Alex Bloom, Pioneer of Radical State Education. FORUM, 47(2 &3).

Abstract: Alex Bloom is one of the greatest figures of radical state education in England. His approach to ‘personalised learning’ and the development of a negotiated curriculum was immeasurably more profound and more inspiring than anything to emerge thus far from the current DfES. His approach to student voice was much more radical than anything presently emerging from the current new wave of activity. His school, St George-in-the-East, a secondary modern school in Stepney in the East End of London, utterly rejected regimentation, corporal punishment (still the norm at the time) and the use of marks, prizes and competition. On the fiftieth anniversary of his death it is fitting to return to learn again from his still unfulfilled legacy.

Fielding, Michael (2009). Education, identity and the possibility of democratic public space in schools. In ESRC Seminar Series (Ed.), The educational and social impact of new technologies on young people in Britain, ‘Digital identities: tracing the implications for learners and learning’ (Vol. Seminar 4). London: London School of Economics.

Fielding, Michael (2012). The College of Teachers’ Biennial Lecture: Student voice: patterns of partnership and the demands of deep democracy. Retrieved 13 June, 2013

Fielding, Michael (2013). Whole School Meetings and the Development of Radical Democratic Community. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 32(2), 123-140.

Abstract: Serious re-examination of participatory traditions of democracy is long overdue.
Iconically central to such traditions of democratic education is the practice of whole
School Meetings. More usually associated with radical work within the private sector,
School Meetings are here explored in detail through two examples from publicly funded
education, (1) Epping House School, a mixed residential primary/elementary school for
students with severe emotional, social and behavioural difficulties and (2) secondary/high
schools within the Just Community School movement in the USA. In addition to providing
richly textured accounts of the multiple realities and challenges of pioneering overtly
democratic practices such as School Meetings within the publicly funded sector of education
substantial attention is paid to analytic engagement with the kind of organisational
structures, practices and cultures that seem to play an important role in their successful
operation and development. The different phenomenological and theoretical strands
weaving their way through the texture of Meeting practices also raise a number of key
issues within the fields of social and political philosophy, in particular, whether School
Meetings are best understood as predominantly political or communal phenomena. In
gesturing towards the philosophical groundwork of a satisfactory answer I argue for the
importance of the undeservedly neglected notion of democratic fellowship within the
lexicon of democratic polity and aspiration.

Fitzpatrick, Colleen M. (1992). A comparative psychological study in education: the concept of `freedom’ in Summerhill and its effects on life satisfaction, self-concept cooperation/altruism and locus of control orientation., National University of Ireland, Dublin.

Goebel, Rhonda (2000). Can we talk? Manifestations of critical thinking in young people’s spontaneous talk. Master’s thesis, School of Education, DePaul University, Chicago.

As children grow older, their use of language becomes ever more sophisticated, and the ideas they exchange and develop in their conversations do, too. For a master’s thesis in education, Rhonda Goebel recorded and analyzed natural, everyday conversations among students at a school in Illionois that was modeled after the Sudbury Valley School." (Gray, Peter. 2013. Free to learn. New York: Basic Books. p.128)

Goodsman, Dane (1992). Summerhill: theory and practice. Norwich: Unpublished PhD thesis, University of East Anglia.

Gray, Peter & David Chanoff (1986). What happens to young people who have charge of their own education? In: American Journal of Education, 94(2), 182-213

Gray, Peter & David Chanoff (1984). When play is learning: A school designed for self-directed education. Phi Delta Kappan, 65, 608-611.

Gray, Peter (1986). Sudbury Valley students thrive in a setting founded on democratic principles. Changing Schools, 13, Issue 2, 3-5.

Gray, Peter & David Chanoff (1986). Democratic schooling: What happens to young people who have charge of their own education? American Journal of Education 94, no. 2: 182-213.

Gray, Peter (1993). The freedom to learn. The Washington Post Education Review, Oct. 31, pp. 25-26.

Gray, Peter (2013). Free to learn. Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self­Reliant, and Better Students for Life. Basic Books

Greenberg, Daniel (1995). Free at last: The Sudbury Valley School. Framingham, MA: Sudbury Valley School Press.

Greenberg, Daniel & Mimsy Sadofsky (1992). Legacy of trust life after Sudbury Valley School. Framingham, MA: Sudbury Valley School Press.

Greenberg, Daniel; Mimsy Sadofsky; and Jason Lempka (2005). The pursuit of happiness: The lives of Sudbury Valley alumni. Framingham, MA: Sudbury Valley School Press.

Hannam, Derry (2001). A pilot study to evaluate the impact of the student participation aspects of the citizenship order in standards of education in secondary schools research on self-directed education in England. Manuskript für Prof. Bernard Crick, Ministerial Adviser for Citizenship Education at the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE), London, England.

Hershkovich, M. & Simon, T. (2016): Every voice counts – The Democratic School Hadera (Israel) as an example of a profound humanization and democratization of school. In: Schulpädagogik heute, H. 13/2016, 7. Jg.

Hershkovich, M. & Simon, T. (2016): Jede Stimme zählt – Die Demokratische Schule Hadera als Beispiel einer tiefgreifenden Humanisierung und Demokratisierung von Schule. In: Hund-Göschel, G., Hadeler, S. & Moegling, K. (Hrsg.): Was sind gute Schulen? Teil 2: Schulprofile und Unterrichtspraxis. Immenhausen: Prolog Verlag, S. 22-28

Keeble-Allen, Diane (2004). Inspection at Summerhill: Did OFSTED inspection result in improvement? , Leicester. Phd or master’s thesis? Link

Kittel, Rut (2006). Demokratische Bildung in der Diskussion. Am Beispiel des Sudbury-Schul-Konzeptes. Magisterarbeit im Studienbereich Erziehungswissenschaften, Fernuniversität Hagen (german)

Lathrop, R. (2005). Democratic schools: Empowering students through active learning and applied civic education. PhD diss., State University of New York.

Moreno-Romero, C. (2018). Education for social justice and inclusion at a democratic school in Spain: an ethnographic approach. (PhD). Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. Retrieved from

Morhayım, B. G. (2008). Bir alternatif okul türü olan demokratik okula dair öğrenci yatkınlığının değerlendirilmesi. Unpublished master theises. İstanbul: Marmara Univesity.

Morrison, K. A. (2007). Free school teaching: A journey into radical progreesive education. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Morrison, Kristan. Progressive educators’ assumptions, structures, and practices: critical pedagogy at the albany free school – University of North Carolina

O’Rourke, D. L. (2010). Defining and defending a democratic public education site. PhD diss., York University.

Peramas, M. (2007). The Sudbury School and Influences of Psychoanalytic Theory on Student-Controlled Education – Essays in Education – Volume 19 Winter 2007.

Posner, R. (2009). Lives of passion, school of hope: How one public school ignites a lifelong love of learning. CO: Sentient Publications.

Ram, Eyal. Between Despair and Hope – A Critique of Democratic Education Using the Concepts of Michel Foucault – Tel Aviv University

Sadofsky, Mimsy (2009): What it Takes to Create a Democratic School (What Does That Mean Anyway?) . Lecture, International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC 2008), Vancouver, Canada, "Sustainable Democracy: Creating a Stable Culture in a Democratic School." Retrieved February 3, 2010.

Shilon, Abi (2003). Quantitative criteria in assessment of democratic schools in Israel. Master Thesiess. University of Derby.

Simon, T. & Hershkovich, M. (2016): Demokratie als Basis ‚guter’ und inklusionsorientierter Schulen. In: Moegling, K., Hund-Göschel, G. & Hadeler, S. (Hrsg.): Was sind gute Schulen? Teil 1: Konzeptionelle Überlegungen und Diskussion. Immenhausen: Prolog Verlag, S. 219-236

Simon, T. & Hershkovich, M. (2016): Democracy as basis of ‘good’ and inclusion-orientated schools. In: Schulpädagogik heute, H. 13/2016, 7. Jg.

Stelle, C. S., Jr. (2011). Examining a free school through auto-photo elicitation. The Florida State University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses,

Stronach, Ian & Heather Piper (2008). Can liberal education make a comeback? The case of ‘relational touch’ at Summerhill School. American Educational Research Journal, 45(1), 6-37.

Stronach, Ian (2005). Progressivism against the audit culture: the continuing case of Summerhill School versus OfSTED, First International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Stronach, Ian (2010). Has Progressive Education a Future? The Fall and Rise of Summerhill School, British Educational Research Association annual conference. Warwick University.

Thomas, Alan (2013). Autonomous and Informal Education Under Threat: Summerhill, UK, Sudbury Schools in The Netherlands and Home Education.

Vedder-Weiss, Dana & David Fortus (2011). Adolescent’s Declining Motivation to Learn Science: Inevitable or Not? In: Journal of Research in Sciene Teaching, 48(2), 199-216

Abstract: There is a growing awareness that science education should center not just on knowledge acquisition but developing the foundation for lifelong learning. However, for intentional learning of science to occur in school, out of school, and after school, there needs to be a motivation to learn science. Prior research had shown that students’ motivation to learn science tends to decrease during adolescence (Anderman and Young (1994) Journal of Research in Science Teaching 31: 811–831; Lee and Anderson (1993) American Educational Research Journal 30: 585–610; Simpson and Oliver (1990) Science Education 74: 1–18]. This study compared 5th through 8th grade students’ self-reported goal orientations, engagement in science class, continuing motivation for science learning, and perceptions of their schools’ and parents’ goals emphases, in Israeli traditional and democratic schools. The results show that the aforementioned decline in adolescents’ motivation for science learning in school and out of school is not an inevitable developmental trend, since it is apparent only in traditional schools but not in democratic ones. The results suggest that the non-declining motivation of adolescents in democratic schools is not a result of home influence but rather is related to the school culture.

Snippets from research

Here you can post quotes (and links) from research literature that mention Democratic education.

“Democratic schools,” such as those described by Weinstock and his colleagues in their examination of how those schools’ practices encourage students to make more autonomous moral judgments,137 might be more likely than regular schools to encourage critical thinking about any advertising programs accepted by the school.

Weinstock , M., Assor, A., Broide, G. (2009). Schools as promoters of moral judgment: The essential role of teachers‘ encouragement of critical thinking. Social Psychology in Education, 12, 137-151.

Abstract: The assumption that high level functioning is characterized by a great deal of autonomy is central to some major theories of moral development (Kohlberg (in T. Lickona (ed.) Moral development and behavior: Theory, research and social issues, 1976); Piaget (The moral judgment of the child, 1932)) and to the self-determination theory of motivation (Ryan and Deci (The American Psychologist, 55, 68–78, 2000)). Based on these theories, we hypothesized that students’ perceptions of their teachers as autonomy supportive, mainly in the form of encouragement of critical thinking, and perhaps also choice, would be positively associated with students’ advanced moral judgment. Data collected from 12th grade students in two regular schools and two democratic schools supported this hypothesis. Results also showed that being a student in a democratic school (as opposed to a regular one) was associated with autonomous moral judgment, and that this association was mediated by students’ perceptions of teachers as encouraging criticism, but not choice. A possible implication is that programs of moral education should explicitly promote teachers’ inclination to encourage critical thinking in their students.

Paper might be found here

Older Research Ideas

  • How to present and explain democratic education in a way that does not evoke incorrect and/or negative assocations taking into account psychological, cognitive and cultural aspects.
  • Comparison of the actual rules passed at different democratic schools and how they depend on cultural context, size and development stage of the school, individual personalities and history.
  • How could a democratic university work, how different would it be from a democratic school and a "regular" university, respectively; how to go from democratic learning/teaching to democratic research
  • How is the experience of children changing between "regular" and democratic schools, which transition pains are there regarding scholastic achievements, personal culture and self-understanding, conflict resolution, attitudes and habits regarding the school experience, …
  • Comparison of career paths of graduates from "regular" and democratic schools; evaluation of how the differences in culture and experiences play out in post-school life.
  • Survey of existing research in the area of democratic education

At the EUDEC-Conference 2012 in Freiburg, Germany we started the DERK workgroup.