Susan Jean (Shay) Mayer is a developmental learning and curricular theorist who writes on a range of issues related to democratic K-12 practice, social science method, and the study of learning within schools. Mayer draws on contemporary understandings of the work of psychologists Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky and on the philosophy of pragmatism as explicated by John Dewey. Her 2012 book, Classroom Discourse and Democracy: Making Meanings Together, employs classroom discourse analysis in order to characterize and theorize distinctively democratic features of secondary literature discussions.
Mayer has taught in teacher education programs at Brandeis and Northeastern Universities and worked in secondary textbook production for five years. She is editor-in-chief of the online Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies and was a founding member of Critical Explorers, a non-profit that conducts curricular research and design residencies (criticalexplorers.org). An edited book on the use of the teaching approach Critical Exploration in the Classroom within teacher education programs is in review.