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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 6. Relocating the Debate on Democracy, Language, and Schooling: Challenges for Educators Working with Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students | Pierre Orelus


Is democracy possible in a country where minority languages and cultures have been pushed to the margins, where citizens are merely spectators of educational, socioeconomic, and political decision-making processes affecting their lives, and where workers have been grossly exploited? This chapter aims to explore these questions. To this end, I begin by briefly reviewing major tenets of democracy as related to schooling. To further examine these tenets, I use excerpts of a dialogue in which I engaged the world-renown scholar and political dissident Noam Chomsky about democracy and schooling. This dialogue is situated within the contemporary U.S. educational and neoliberal context, including the No Child Left Behind legislation. I go on to explore linguistic discrimination minority students, including bilingual students, and how these students have faced barriers in schools and in society at-large. I conclude this chapter making an appeal for linguistic and cultural pluralism as one of sine qua non conditions if we are to live in a participatory form of democracy.

At the outset, it is important to note that concepts such as economic democracy, ecological democracy, and democracy in the social realm, which are important aspects of direct democracy, are beyond the scope of this chapter. Broadly conceived, the concept of democracy has been at the center of many political debates and can be traced back as far as the time of Plato. This concept occupied a central role in Plato’s work, namely in his book Republic (2008). However, despite the fact that the Republic...

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