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There is a need for teachers to consider students' views toward content and methodology when making curriculum and methods decisions. Research continues to show that the needs of students are not being taken into account by teachers who, in spite of the strong, child-centered and action-oriented policies existing in social studies curriculum, continue to employ teacher-centered instructional practices.

In order for students to take the process of schooling seriously (as opposed to mechanically meeting its demands), schools must minimise student alienation; for example, by offering opportunities for student choice in school work, by cultivating consensus on the central purposes of the school. Some schools create dependence and passive learning rather than independence, inquiry and experimentation. Schools need to put more value on students’ understanding of why and how they learn and ultimately to learn independently of instruction and guidance.

School teachers can adapt methods of negotiation. There are a number of key conditions which are associated with ‘negotiation’ with students in classrooms. White (1999) explains that negotiation in the classroom occurs when ideas and opinions of students are sought by the teacher and expressed by the student; when students are encouraged to have input into decisions about what they learn and how they learn it; when these decisions are acted upon, and when students participate in exercising choice. Negotiation therefore rests upon addressing questions of power imbalance in classrooms, where teachers are prepared to encourage their students to accept and exercise power and responsibility. It rests upon notions of valuing and listening to the voices of students. It also rests upon teachers developing in students the confidence and skills to venture their views about education and learning, to participate and to negotiate.

Many people in life find themselves in roles where they have responsibility for others, including a responsibility to make decisions for others. These include almost all managerial roles, professionals such as law professionals and health professionals and educators.

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Underpinning these roles is a professional training and experience brought to the role by that person which enables them to make such decisions. They also have an authority vested in their position which requires them to be accountable for the well-being of their clients. In the case of teachers, this duty of care is additionally serious because the people for whom they are responsible are not adults.

In all professions it has traditionally been common for those vested with this authority to make decisions on behalf of their ‘clients’ without serious attempts to bring the client into the decision making process. Professionals have often felt it their role to use their privileged knowledge to provide advice to and ultimately make decisions on behalf of clients. This has been especially true in education, where young people are perceived as lacking experience and having insufficient knowledge about education issues (about teaching, learning and curriculum) to participate in decision making about education. However, it is now accepted in discussions about ethics in law and medicine that clients should be made fully aware of their circumstances and options, and should ultimately have the right to decide. So too in education there is a growing awareness that young people need to participate in educational decisions, especially at the classroom level.

In education the need to participate goes beyond an ethical consideration of the rights of students. Educational research has clearly established that learning performance is inextricably linked to the motivation of the learner. William Glasser (1990) has forcefully argued that learner motivation is achieved by learners feeling that their needs are being met through their learning. There is strong argument therefore that talking with and listening to students about what and how they should learn (negotiating with students) is a necessary, fundamental educational tool if we are to maximise the learning of our young people.