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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 12. Challenging Neoliberal Anti-Intellectualism, Consumerism, and Utilitarianism: Achieving Deweyian and Freirean Visions of Critically Engaged Citizens | Michael O`Sullivan


I have become increasingly convinced that the advocates of critical pedagogy need to respond in a more conscious or deliberate fashion to key aspects of the challenges that confront us as we seek “to achieve a more vibrant and socially conscientizing critical democracy in and through education” (call for papers for this collection). Arguably, we have reached an impasse with respect to our efforts to reach the democratic goal that is central to critical pedagogy. In the more than 100 years that have passed since John Dewey (1897/2010, 1900/2001, 1902/2001, 1916/2007, 1938/1997) first posed the contradictions inherent in the school-society and the education-democracy dualities that faced the educators of his time and still remain unresolved in this, the era of neoliberal globalization, a vast critical literature has been produced on the need to promote educational change which is characterized by its own duality—one that involves a rejection and an affirmation. It rejects the long-held dominant view that sees schooling as an instrument that uncritically reproduces the social, economic, and political norms of existing society while it prepares students for their eventual integration into the workforce. It affirms the classic role of education that prepares students for informed and engaged citizenship. This role has never lost its relevance even as it has been displaced by the now dominant utilitarian view that sees the purpose of education, as being, above all relegated to that of job training.

The ideal that puts preparing students for citizenship as the central purpose...

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