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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 9. Animating Democracy: The Civic and Pedagogical Imperatives | Randy Hoover


As I reflect on what democratic education means to me and how it might achieve a more critically vibrant role in the conduct of human affairs, I am taken to the heart of my personal and professional interest—the project of animating democracy through schools and the opportunities schools might provide students for an empowering civic education as they progress from start through graduation. My experience and the perspective that has emerged from it are within the context of American democracy and American public schooling. I emphasize the notion of public schools because they represent the central historical mechanism in America’s debate about democratic citizenship. Likewise, there is also a significant difference between public schools and government schools,1 just as there is a difference between public schools and private schools.

Certainly, the idea of animating democracy through schooling implicitly assumes both that democracy exists in an inert, inanimate state of being and that schools are capable of creating curriculum that can empower learners such that the inanimate state can be rendered animate. My reflections on the interplay of the state of democracy and schooling have led me to posit in this chapter that, indeed, while our democracy has been rendered inert, the stimulus for awakening it lies within the recognition of the need for a shared civic imperative, enmeshed in concern, care, and tolerance (Pratte, 1988) and the recognition that we must understand and embrace a pedagogical imperative that teaching is a singular political act above and...

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