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Learning What You Cannot Say

Teaching Free Speech and Political Literacy in an Authoritarian Age


John L. Hoben

How do teachers know the limits of their speech? Free speech means more than simply being free to agree, though the authoritarian managerial cultures of many schools increasingly ignore the need for a strong and empowered teaching profession. In response to this ongoing systemic contradiction, Learning What You Cannot Say provides a unique combination of teacher narratives, cultural theory and «black letter law» as part of a broader effort to create an active and effective critical legal literacy. The book explores the subtle ways in which cultural values inform shared perceptions of the black letter law and the detrimental impact of teacher apathy and confusion about rights. Since public schools educate our future citizens who learn not only from books but also by example, strong teacher speech is vital to the continued health of both our education system and our democracy. Any transformative form of political literacy, the author insists, must consider the cultural politics as well as the substantive law of rights.
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First and foremost I would like to thank Paul Carr without whom this book would not have been possible. He has been the most insightful, knowledgeable and patient editor I could ever have hoped for. I would also like to thank Peter Lang for their continuous support and guidance at each stage of the publication process.

Without the educators who shared their stories with me this project would not have happened. I want to emphasize my deep respect for the teachers who work tirelessly behind the scenes in our education system every day. I would also like to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the School of Graduate Studies, and Memorial University for the Aldrich Fellowship that supported my research.

I am also very grateful to Connie Morrison and the late Kate Bride for their guidance and friendship. I would also be remiss not to thank Lionel for encouraging me to question authority and Myrtle who taught me how words can bear much kindness. Finally, I would also like to express my gratitude to my in-laws, Bernice and Winston, for their help when I was finalizing the manuscript.

To those who have helped me with this text, I am ever grateful: Andrea Rose, John Scott and Rosonna Tite. I would also like to thank Dr. Elizabeth← xi | xii → Yeoman; I am ever grateful for your kindness, your deep knowledge and the countless ways you...

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