Democracy and Decency

What Does Education Have to Do With It?

Edited by:
Paul R. Carr, Université du Québec en Outaouais
P. L. Thomas, Furman University
Brad J. Porfilio, Seattle University
Julie A. Gorlewski, SUNY New Paltz

A volume in the series: Critical Constructions: Studies on Education and Society. Editor(s): Brad J. Porfilio, California State University, Stanislaus. Marc Pruyn, Monash University. Derek R. Ford, DePauw University.

Published 2016

Democracy can mean a range of concepts, covering everything from freedoms, rights, elections, governments, processes, philosophies and a panoply of abstract and concrete notions that can be mediated by power, positionality, culture, time and space. Democracy can also be translated into brute force, hegemony, docility, compliance and conformity, as in wars will be decided on the basis of the needs of elites, or major decisions about spending finite resources will be the domain of the few over the masses, or people will be divided along the lines of race, ethnicity, class, religion, etc. because it is advantageous for maintaining exploitative political systems in place to do so. Often, these frameworks are developed and reified based on the notion that elections give the right to societies, or segments of societies, to install regimes, institutions and operating systems that are then supposedly legitimated and rendered infinitely just because formal power resides in the hands of those dominating forces.

This book is interested in advancing a critical analysis of the hegemonic paradigm described above, one that seeks higher levels of political literacy and consciousness, and one that makes the connection with education. What does education have to do with democracy? How does education shape, influence, impinge on, impact, negate, facilitate and/or change the context, contours and realities of democracy? How can we teach for and about democracy to alter and transform the essence of what democracy is, and, importantly, what it should be?

This book advances the notion of decency in relation to democracy, and is underpinned by an analysis of meaningful, critically-engaged education. Is it enough to be kind, nice, generous and hopeful when we can also see signs of rampant, entrenched and debilitating racism, sexism, poverty, violence, injustice, war and other social inequalities? If democracy is intended to be a legitimating force for good, how does education inform democracy? What types of knowledge, experience, analysis and being are helpful to bring about newer, more meaningful and socially just forms of democracy?

Throughout some twenty chapters from a range of international scholars, this book includes three sections: Constructing Meanings for Democracy and Decency; Justice for All as Praxis; and Social Justice in Action for Democracy, Decency, and Diversity: International Perspectives. The underlying thread that is interwoven through the texts is a critical reappraisal of normative, hegemonic interpretations of how power is infused into the educational realm, and, importantly, how democracy can be re-situated and re-formulated so as to more meaningfully engage society and education.

Acknowledgments. Introduction: Where There Is Democracy, Should There Be Decency? Framing the Context, Notion, and Potential for a More “Decent” Democracy, Paul R. Carr, Paul L. Thomas, Julie Gorlewski and Brad J. Porfilio. SECTION I: CONSTRUCTING MEANINGS FOR DEMOCRACY AND DECENCY. What Is Decency Within the Context of Democracy and Education? Katie Zahedi. Democracy, Education, and a Politics of Indignation, Dalene M. Swanson. Social Justice: Seeking Democracy That Eschews Oppression in Any Form, Sheron Fraser-Burgess. Social Justice Requirements for Democracy and Education, Carlos Riádigos Mosquera. The Ascendance of Democracy: David Purpel’s Prophetic Pedagogical Path to Democracy, Richard Hartsell and Susan B. Harden. Writing and Restoring Democracy: Empathy, Critique, and the Neoliberal Monoculture, Chris Gilbert. What Are Icelandic Teachers’ Attitudes Toward Democracy in Education? Ingimar Ólafsson Waage, Kristján Kristjánsson, and Amalía Björnsdóttir. Ripples of Change: Redefining Democracy and Fostering Resistance in the Classroom, Emily A. Daniels. SECTION II JUSTICE FOR ALL AS PRAXIS. Education, Democracy, and Decency: Which Curriculum Ideology Best Addresses a Child’s Education for Democracy?, Richard H. Rogers. “Whose Democracy Is This, Anyway?” Teaching Socially Responsible Literacies for Democracy, Decency, and Mindfulness, R. Joseph Rodriguez. Unschooling for Citizen Creation, Kristan Morrison. Democracy and Decency Supporting Science Teaching, Michael Svec. Educating To Act Decently: Can Human Rights Education Foster Socially Just Democracy? Stefanie Rinaldi. SECTION III SOCIAL JUSTICE IN ACTION FOR DEMOCRACY, DECENCY, AND DIVERSITY: INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES. Responsible Citizens and Critical Skills in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: The Contribution of Classical Rhetoric to Democratic Deliberation, Arlene Holmes-Henderson. The Isolated Irish and Education for Democracy: Acknowledging Our Responsibility to Ourselves in Social Sciences Education, Aoife B. Prendergast. Beyond the School Of Greece and Into Baltimore: Education in Undemocratic Democracies, Pamela J. Hickey and Tim W. Watson. Case Study: A Suburban High School’s Courageous Conversations of Democracy and Diversity, Jacquelyn Benchik-Osborne. Pedagogies of Democracy and Decency in a Religiously Diverse Society, Rawia Hayik. Mobilizing Citizenship Education in the Arab World: Toward a Pedagogy for Democracy, Wisam Kh. Abdul-Jabbar. About the Contributors.