Social Justice, Democratic Education and the Silencing of Words that Wound

Journal of Moral Education 32 (2):151-162 (2003)
Abstract
Classrooms and schools represent a "culture of power" to the extent that they mirror unjust social relations that exist in the larger society. Progressive educators committed to social justice seek to disrupt those social relations in the classroom that function to silence marginalised students, but neutralising those who attempt to reassert power is problematic. This paper investigates the questions: is it ever justified to use power to interrupt power? Does all silencing subjugate? Arguments for and against the censorship of teachers who believe that portraying homosexual lifestyles in a positive light undermines their integrity are outlined. I highlight and explain two crucial considerations absent in the aforementioned debate. Finally, the implications of the debate for social justice educators are explicated
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