Beyond the betrayal of democracy in schools: lessons from the past, hopes for the future


Fielding, Michael 2013. Beyond the betrayal of democracy in schools: lessons from the past, hopes for the future. Research in Teacher Education. 3 (2), pp. 47-50.
AuthorsFielding, Michael

We live in interesting times, not least because democracy is both under threat and, in part as a consequence, fitfully and potentially resurgent. In the UK the presumptions of privilege and greed that have for some years disfigured the workings of parliamentary democracy and the, increasingly visible, predatory ambitions and moral indifference of transnational capitalism have prompted Occupy and other similar movements. Not only is there an increasingly widespread willingness to refute and refuse the political passivity and tacit subservience such systems require. There is also a companion resurgence of interest in too readily forgotten traditions of participatory democracy and their more deliberate and wide-ranging insistence on multiple sites and opportunities for democratic engagement.
One of the issues this raises for those of us working in the field of education concerns not just the overarching relationship between education and democracy in terms of organisational systems of provision and curricular guidance, but also how a serious commitment to democracy translates into the daily patterns and practices of schools. Perhaps surprisingly, and certainly reprehensibly, it is not, generally, one that is addressed explicitly, honestly or with any degree of sophistication or seriousness. With the current government, as with many of its predecessors, foundational aims limp deferentially and tangentially along behind the overriding ambitions of a narrowly conceived, brashly articulated, economic instrumentalism. Likewise, and predictably, consideration of democracy as a way of young people and adults living and learning together on a daily basis is largely absent.

KeywordsAlex Bloom; participatory democracy; radical democratic education
JournalResearch in Teacher Education
Research in Teacher Education
Journal citation3 (2), pp. 47-50
PublisherUniversity of East London, Cass School of Education and Communities
Publisher's version
Publication dates
Print01 Oct 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Nov 2013
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