Power and trust in the public realm: John Dewey, Saul alinsky, and the limits of progressive democratic education

Educational Theory 61 (4):491-512 (2011)
Throughout the twentieth century, middle-class progressives embraced visions of democracy rooted in their relatively privileged life experiences. Progressive educators developed pedagogies designed to nurture the individual voice within egalitarian classrooms, assuming that collective action in the public realm could be modeled on the relatively safe small-group interactions they were familiar with in their families, schools, and associations. Partly as a result, they remained blind to (and often denigrated) the democratic aspects of working-class organizations, such as unions and community action groups, which found strength in solidarity. In this article Aaron Schutz argues that progressives must integrate into their models the often brutal lessons about power learned by those with less privilege. Until they do so, their approaches to democratic education will continue to have limited capacity to support social transformation and empowerment in the world as it is
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DOI 10.1111/j.1741-5446.2011.00416.x
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