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Educating for Democratic Consciousness

Counter-Hegemonic Possibilities


Edited By Ali A. Abdi and Paul R. Carr

This book has received the AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award 2013.
There is a widespread, but mainly untenable, assumption that education in Western societies (and elsewhere) intuitively and horizontally aids the democratic development of people. An argument could be made that in contemporary liberal democracies, education was never designed for the well-being of societies. Instead of the full inclusion of everyone in educational development, it becomes dominated by those with a vested interest in the role of the liberal state as a mediating agent that, ultimately, assures the supremacy of the capitalism and neoliberalism. This book extends beyond a theoretical analysis of democratic education, seeking to tap into the substantial experiences, perspectives and research of a wide range of leading scholars from diverse vantage points, who bring themselves and their work into the debate connecting democracy and education, which elucidates the reference to counter-hegemonic possibilities in the title.
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Chapter 4. Democratic Education, Thinking Out Differently | George J. Sefa Dei


The nonperformativity of democratic education as currently understood and practiced calls for a deeper thinking of what the goal and purpose of education are, and ought to be, particularly for those students who remain marginalized in this democratic education. Many of us are fully aware of the song and dance around issues of antiracism, equity, and social justice in education. It is apparent to any critical antiracist, equity, or social justice educator that the mere acknowledgment of difference does not mean there has also been a concrete action to address what such difference implies and entails in terms of power and sharing of resources. The genuine intent of democratic education has not always materialized in concrete social educational change for various reasons, including, as already mentioned, the ways in which democracy is understood in the current epoch. In many ways displaying symbols and keeping up appearances have been the order of the day, and in this we must ask how these modes come to erase not only the present situation for particular bodies but simultaneously eschew responsibility for the past through the “performance of the apology.” Specifically, we must consider how this “apology” works to wipe the table clean of any historic genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of many more. While some may want us to laud the progress that has been made over the years—and I will not dismiss this—I prefer to put the gaze on the work still left to be done so that...

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