Discussion as a Way of Teaching, Second Edition: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms
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More About This Title Discussion as a Way of Teaching, Second Edition: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms


Thoroughly revised and updated, the second edition of the landmark book Discussion as a Way of Teaching shows how to plan, conduct, and assess classroom discussions. Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill suggest exercises for starting discussions, strategies for maintaining their momentum, and ways to elicit diverse views and voices. The book also includes new exercises and material on the intersections between discussion and the encouragement of democracy in the classroom. This revised edition expands on the original and contains information on adapting discussion methods in online teaching, on using discussion to enhance democratic participation, and on the theoretical foundations for the discussion exercises described in the book.   

Throughout the book, Brookfield and Preskill clearly show how discussion can enliven classrooms, and they outline practical methods for ensuring that students will come to class prepared to discuss a topic. They also explain how to balance the voices of students and teachers, while still preserving the moral, political, and pedagogic integrity of discussion.


Stephen D. Brookfield is Distinguished University Professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. A prolific writer, he is a three-time winner of the Cyril O. Houle Award for Literature in Adult Education for Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning, Developing Critical Thinkers, and Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher all from Jossey-Bass. He is also the author of The Power of Critical Theory.

Stephen Preskill is Regents Professor of Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Organizational Learning in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. He has written extensively on the history of educational reform, the connections between education and democracy, and the role leaders and activists have played historically in fostering meaningful change.


Preface to Second Edition.

Preface to the First Edition.


The Authors.

1. Discussion in a Democratic Society.

2. How Discussion Helps Learning and Enlivens Classrooms.

3. Preparing for Discussion.

4. Getting Discussion Started.

5. Keeping Discussion Going Through Questioning, Listening, and Responding.

6. Keeping Discussion Going Through Creative Grouping.

7. Discussion in Culturally Diverse Classrooms.

8. Discussing Across Gender Differences (Written with Eleni Roulis).

9. Keeping Students’ Voices in Balance.

10. Keeping Teachers’ Voices in Balance.

11. Understanding the Dynamics of Online Discussion.

12. Creating the Conditions for Online Discussion.

13. How Theory Can Inform Discussion Practice.

14. Discussion Groups as Democratic Learning Laboratories.

15. Evaluating Discussion.




Praise for the First Edition of Discussion as a Way of Teaching Winner of the1999 Choice Selection of the American Educational Studies Association

"Stimulating good discussions is often one of the more difficult tasks of teaching. In this book, Brookfield and Preskill offer a wealth of information and strategies for improving dialogues in the classroom. I found the teacher- and student-centered tone of the book refreshing and the connections drawn between democratic education and discussion methods quite meaningful."
--Mary Deane Sorcinelli, associate provost and director, Center for Teaching, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

"Discussion as a Way of Teaching addresses an important, often underutilized pedagogical approach—the discussion method. The book is a practical and valuable resource for all faculty seeking to improve their teaching and create more learner-centered teaching environments."
--Jodi Levine Laufgraben, director of first-year programs, Temple University

"It would be hard for anyone to read this book and not And up with a large number of ideas about how to use discussion in the classroom. Even experienced teachers are likely to be challenged in some of their own assumptions."
--David Boud, professor of adult education, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

"This book provides an excellent overview of how to cultivate and nurture democratic dispositions and discussion habits in students. Each chapter provides adaptable, practical, and clearly articulated strategies that both novice and experienced teachers can use."
--Gary Cale, associate professor of language and literature, Jackson Community College, Michigan