Democratic education means both the development of critical, socially-engaged citizens and the creation of learning environments (schools, libraries, community centers, ...), which are themselves democratic. The concept is expressed well by the American Library Association's core values:
- Education and Lifelong Learning
- Intellectual Freedom
- The Public Good
- Social Responsibility
Democratic education should be central in civics or government classes, although it isn't always. But it is much more than any one class, or even schools and universities. It also needs to occur in hospitals, prisons, workplaces, and every other venue that people inhabit. It reflects Dewey's idea that we are all citizens, regardless of our status on paper, and that democracy is a process in continual creation. It is fundamentally an attitude about learning and life, which asserts the integral relation between the development of the individual and the society.