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Democratic Dialogue in Education

Troubling Speech, Disturbing Silence


Megan Boler

This collection brings into dialogue authors from a range of disciplines and perspectives to address the thorny question of how to balance the demands of «democratic dialogue» with the reality of a world in which each voice does not carry equal weight. Should rules be in place, for example, that correct for such imbalances by privileging some voices or muting others? Should separate spaces be created for traditionally disadvantaged groups to speak only among themselves? Is democratic dialogue in an inclusive sense even a possibility in a world divided by multiple dimensions of power and privilege?
Leading theorists from several countries share a concern for social justice and present radically different interpretations of what democracy means for educational practice. In a format unusual for such collections, the essays speak directly to each other about significant moral, philosophical, and practical differences regarding how to effectively engage students as critical participants in classrooms fraught with power and difference. The authors draw from philosophy, critical race theory, sociology, feminist, and poststructural studies to address topics including hate speech, freedom of expression, speech codes, the meanings of silence, conceptions of voice and agency, and «political correctness». They explore honestly and self-critically the troubling and disturbing dimensions of speech and silence that situate the classroom as a volatile microcosm of contemporary political contradictions.
Contents: Nicholas C. Burbules: Introduction – Megan Boler: All Speech Is Not Free: The Ethics of «Affirmative Action Pedagogy» – Ronald David Glass: Moral and Political Clarity and Education as a Practice of Freedom – Cris Mayo: The Tolerance That Dare Not Speak Its Name – Suzanne deCastell: No Speech Is Free: Affirmative Action and the Politics of Give and Take – Alison Jones: Talking Cure: The Desire for Dialogue – Huey Li Li: Rethinking Silencing Silences – Jim Garrison: Ameliorating Violence in Dialogues Across Differences: The Role of Eros and Lógos – Barbara Houston: Democratic Dialogue: Who Takes Responsibility? – Ann C. Berlak: Confrontation and Pedagogy: Cultural Secrets, Trauma, and Emotion in Antioppressive Pedagogies – Ingrid M. Erickson: Fighting Fire with Fire: Jane Elliott’s Antiracist Pedagogy.