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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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Foreword. Democracy Does Not Fall From the Sky Daniel Schugurensky


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When we learn in school about the origins of democracy, textbooks and teachers often direct us to Ancient Greece as a main reference point. We are taught that democracy flourished in that part of the world around 2,500 years ago, but we are told little about how it came about. Greek democracy did not fall from the sky. It originated in successive protests of the common people (the demos) against debt bondage. At that time, as a result of exorbitant interest rates and the need to use their own bodies as collateral to get loans to feed their families, many free laborers who had lost their land became slaves to the wealthy. The tensions between the rich and the “new poor” generated much political instability, and the risk of a mass rebellion was on the horizon. It was in this context that in 594 BC, in order to regain governability, Solon promulgated a series of democratic reforms that opened the door for the political participation of the poor. Democracy, then, from its beginnings, has been connected to struggles for economic and political justice.

Another important reference point in the long road to democracy is Magna Carta, issued in England in 1215 by King John. This important document was not a product of divine inspiration or of the benevolence—or the wisdom—of the king. It was the product of the rebellion of a group of his subjects, who wanted to limit the power...

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