Draft Syllabus

In the Spring 2020 semester, I designed a 1-credit tutorial course entitled “Self-Regulated Learning: Education for Freedom.” This is a mock, 3-credit syllabus for a semester-length course at Georgetown University that expands on my tutorial course.

Self-Regulated Learning & Self-Governance: Education for Freedom

Spring 2020, LDES-***
Tuesday, Thursday, 4:00-6:30; Car Barn 314
Virtual Classroom Link in Canvas Classroom

Course Description

A free and flourishing society requires citizens who embody certain attitudes and habits conducive to freedom, initiative, and responsibility. As Aristotle argued, however, such virtues cannot be acquired by passively listening to lectures. They must be acquired through practice. What is the philosophical foundation for fostering environments that enable, not just an acquaintance with ideas, but the development of character towards self-regulation and self- governance?

This course is designed to explore educational paradigms that encourage students to become citizens that are active in a community, cooperating, exchanging, and sympathizing with others, and using their own judgment. The themes include education and its democratic purpose, philosophies of education, self-regulated learning, & education for self-governance.

Contact Info & Office Hours

Rachel Davison Humphries, Lecturer rtd**@georgetown.edu, ***-***-****

Office Hours: M, TH 4-6pm. In-Person and digital office hours available. Email or text to arrange.

The most up-to-date version of this syllabus and all assignments will be in our Canvas Course. It is your responsibility to review the announcements and updates to the course regularly.

Learning Goals

By the end of this seminar, students should

  • Become aware of major themes within the field of democratic education
  • Be able to analyze major contentious issues within K12 education when it comes to democratic education
  • Develop strategies for thinking through the complexities of education for and through democracy
  • Explore their own democratic skills and dispositions

Participation Expectations

  • This course has high standards for student participation and conduct. The goal is to create an open and safe environment for individuals to explore deeply held beliefs.
  • In the first weeks of class we will work together to develop a rubric of common rules and expectations of engagement and conduct, in the spirit of freedom, responsibility, toleration, and open and civil dialogue.
  • Students will be expected to participate verbally. Dialogue will take place in a variety of modes from one-on-one, to small breakout groups, to whole class dialogues. I will work closely with students who feel they need support in growing their verbal contributions.
  • Due to the dialogical and collaborative nature of the course, absences are especially detrimental to both the student and the learning community. As such, a large portion of the grade depends on attendance and in-class participation. Students should reach out with as much advance notice as necessary if they need to miss class.
  • In-person participation is always preferred, but each class will have an open Zoom session available for virtual participation. Please notify the instructor if you have a need for this option for a given class. Zoom will also be how we continue the class in the case of the need for instructional continuity.
  • To facilitate your active engagement in class and minimize distractions, the use of cell phones, mobile devices, iPads, and laptops are not permitted in class, unless specifically noted in advance as part of an activity or exercise. Accommodation to this policy can be made, however, if required in a particular case, in consultation through the Office of Disability Support Services.
  • In short, in the immortal words of Ms. Frizzle, we will “Work hard. Get messy. And make mistakes.” We will learn a lot about ourselves and each other in the process!

Classwork and Grade Distribution

This class will combine discussion, analysis, criticism, and creativity. 

  • Class Discussion
    • Expect a healthy amount of reading, both online and off, including work by others as well as classmates. As stated elsewhere, classes rely on student participation both in discussion and in regular feedback on discussion dynamics. Students will have the opportunity to suggest a reading, then introduce that reading online and in person, helping facilitate the seminar.
  • Online Work
    • Prior to every class students are asked to submit a reading reflection that poses an analytic or extension question related to the content of the reading. There will be a number of applied mini-projects throughout the course.
  • Mid-term project.
    • This is a first attempt at your final project, drawing the readings and discussions of the course.  It can take multiple forms with instructor approval.
  • Final Project
    • This can take a variety of forms with instructor approval. A grading rubric will be available.
  • Grade Distribution
    • Class discussion: 40%
    • Online work: 20%
    • Mid-term project: 15%
    • Final project: 25%


The readings for this course will adapt based on the student’s interest. The schedule of readings will be available as Canvas assignments no less than two weeks before their due date.

Required Readings (Please purchase either a physical or digital copy.)

  • Gutmann, A. (1999). Democratic education. Princeton (N.J.): Princeton University Press.
  • Dewey, J. (2018). Democracy and Education: an introduction to the philosophy of education. Gorham (Me.): Myers Education press.

Additional assignments may draw from the following. Readings will be available as PDFs or links to ungated versions within the modules for each class on Canvas.

  • Bass, R. & Elmendorf, H. (2010) Designing for Difficulty: Social Pedagogies as a Framework for Course Design. Randy Bass.  https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/bassr/social-pedagogies/
  • Biesta, G. (2011). Learning democracy in school and society: education, lifelong learning, and the politics of citizenship. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
  • Biesta, G. (2016). Beyond learning: democratic education for a human future. London: Routledge.
  • Chamlee-Wright, E. (Ed.). (2015). Liberal learning and the art of self-governance. London: Routledge.
  • Dudley, R. L., & Gitelson, A. R. (2003). Civic Education, Civic Engagement, and Youth Civic Development. Political Science and Politics, 36(02), 263–267. doi: 10.1017/s1049096503002191
  • Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (2001). Pedagogy of freedom: ethics, democracy, and civic courage. (P. Clarke, Trans.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • Freire, P., & Macedo, D. P. (2018). Pedagogy of the oppressed. (M. B. Ramos, Trans.). New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Hess, D. E. (2009). Controversy in the classroom: the democratic power of discussion. New York: Routledge.
  • Hess, D. E., & McAvoy, P. (2015). The political classroom: Evidence and ethics in democratic education. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Levine, P. (2011). Seeing Like a Citizen: The Contributions of Elinor Ostrom to “Civic Studies”. The Good Society, 20(1), 3–14. doi: 10.1353/gso.2011.0010
  • Montessori, M. (2017) The Discovery of the Child: formerly entitled “The Montessori Method” (The Montessori Series Book 2) . Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.
  • Montessori, M. (2007). Education and Peace. (H. R. Lane, Trans.) (Vol. 10). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company.
  • Olson, G. A., & Worsham, L. (2012). Education as civic engagement: Toward a more democratic society. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ostrom, E. (1993). Covenanting, Co-Producing, and the Good Society. The Newsletter of PEGS, 3(2), 7-9. Retrieved May 09, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20710607
  • Sardoc, M. (2018). Democratic Education at 30: An interview with Dr. Amy Gutmann. Theory and Research in Education, 16(2), 244–252. doi: 10.1177/1477878518774087
  • Tyack, D. (1974). The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Vassallo, S. (2013). Self-regulated learning: an application of critical educational psychology. New York, NY: Lang.
  • Westheimer, J., & Kahne, J. (2004). What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy. American Educational Research Journal, 41(2), 237–269. doi: 10.3102/00028312041002237


Attendance Please make sure to arrive on time for class. Attendance is extremely important and participation will form a large part of your final grade! If you have a documented family or medical emergency and are unable to attend class, or need to submit an assignment late, please email me as soon as possible. NOTE: See the “Religious Holidays” section below for information on students who may need to be absent because of religious observances.

Disability Accommodation If you believe that you have a disability that will affect your performance in this class, please contact the Academic Resource Center for further information. All accommodations for this course will be organized through the ARC. The center is located in the Leavey Center, Suite 335. The Academic Resource Center is the campus office responsible for reviewing documentation provided by students with disabilities and for determining reasonable accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and University policies.

Grade Policy There are no exams or tests in this seminar. Grades will be based on three components. The first is in-class discussion and attendance and will account for 40% of the grade. No kidding. You are expected to be present and prepared to come ready to discuss the assigned material. It will help you if you make a few notes of questions you have or points you want to challenge, etc, as you are reading. I will keep track of both your attendance and contributions to the discussion. Missed classes will count appreciably against your grade. The second component involves online work (20%) and the third is your midterm (15%) and final project (25%). You will generate rubrics in collaboration with me for each project and you will submit that rubric with your assignment. In addition to regular verbal assessments of participation, you will also be asked to formally assess your participation through our co-designed rubric at least four times throughout the semester. These assessments will be taken into consideration when determining your final grades. Grades for assignments should be posted in Canvas no later than 7 days after submission.

Honor System

All students are expected to uphold the following pledge:

“In pursuit of the high ideals and rigorous standards of academic life I commit myself to respect and to uphold the Georgetown University honor system: To be honest in every academic endeavor, and to conduct myself honorably, as a responsible member of the Georgetown community as we live and work together.”

As a Jesuit, Catholic university, committed to the education of the whole person, Georgetown expects all members of the academic community, students and faculty, to strive for excellence in scholarship and in character. The University spells out the specific standards for academic integrity in its honor system, as well as the procedures to be followed if academic dishonesty is suspected. Over and above the honor system, in this course we will seek to create an engaged and passionate learning environment, characterized by respect and courtesy in both our discourse and our ways of paying attention to one another. For more information, visit the Georgetown Honor System page.

Instructional Continuity If the campus is closed for any reason, please make sure to check our Canvas course. There I will place instructions on where to find materials for continuing class instruction. This may include additional readings, video or audio files, and/or writing assignments.

Religious Holidays Georgetown University promotes respect for all religions. Any student who is unable to attend classes or to participate in any examination, presentation, or assignment on a given day because of the observance of a major religious holiday (see here) or related travel shall be excused and provided with the opportunity to make up, without unreasonable burden, any work that has been missed for this reason and shall not in any other way be penalized for the absence or rescheduled work. Students will remain responsible for all assigned work. Students should notify professors in writing at the beginning of the semester of religious observances that conflict with their classes. The Office of the Provost, in consultation with Campus Ministry and the Registrar, will publish, before classes begin for a given term, a list of major religious holidays likely to affect Georgetown students. The Provost and the Main Campus Executive Faculty encourage faculty to accommodate students whose bona fide religious observances in other ways impede normal participation in a course. Students who cannot be accommodated should discuss the matter with an advising dean.

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