Dewey (1916/2009) viewed democracy as a “path or journey”. This suggests that there is no mutually agreed upon end. Similarly, in teaching and teacher education, if viewed as a learning problem, the end is the process according to Ritter (2010) “[t]eaching others how to teach for democratic citizenship represents a process that righteously lacks a conclusion” (p. 90). Without a definitive conclusion there are many potentially valuable conceptions and enactments of democratic living and learning.

Discussing these strong connections between democracy in social studies and self-study, Powell (2010) argues “when social studies teachers engage in ‘reflectively pragmatic’ study of their own practice, they. . . position themselves to see the possibilities inherent in the social and political nature of their work” (p. 26). This is indicative of a desire to pursue a teaching practice that does not contradict one’s effort to explicitly teach democratic citizenship. Given the unique contexts and many potentially valuable conceptions of democratic citizenship, inquiry into one’s practice toward a democratic approach and improving ones teaching practice is necessary. What follows is an argument for the promise of self-study to empower teachers toward democratic ends through researching their own practice. This is accomplished here through a review of relevant literature and a description of the framework, methods, and a major finding of a collaborative self-study research project conducted during the spring of 2009.