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ERIC Number: EJ857190
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Aug
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-0885-6257
Debating the Role of Tocqueville in Inclusive Education: Making the Distinction between an Academic and a Political Education
Connolley, Steven; Hausstatter, Rune Sarromaa
European Journal of Special Needs Education, v24 n3 p257-258 Aug 2009
This article presents the authors' response to the commentaries on their article. In reply to Julie Allan they contend that it is not so much the exposure to democratic ideas that they are against as much as the argument that democratic practices ought to be a central element in schooling. Moreover, they do not argue that introducing democratic practices and policies into the classroom leads to conformity, that intellectual torpor to which they refer; rather, a democratic society is already awash with the willingness of following mainstream opinion, and this is a constant threat to everybody, including young people. Furthermore, drawing from Tocqueville's ideas, the authors hold that it is necessary to maintain the distinction between an academic and a political education. A political education can only be pursued "out there", through the actual exercise of associating. The authors hold that the associations are the real schools of democracy and argue that schools are a poor substitute for a real education in democracy. Steinnes has stated that the authors have only really discussed "equality" and "liberty" and have omitted "fraternity" from the motto of the French Revolution. First, they say that this is only a motto, a very appealing, but very general statement, and many different political traditions have found ways of identifying with it. Secondly, they point out that all ideologies, liberalism included, have among their chief characteristics the prioritising of some concepts over others, and that there is a constant interplay among them. If they only consider the ideological tradition of liberalism, the different ways in which liberalism has been expressed are bewildering because of the many different arrangements of the key concepts, such as the liberty of thought and action, rationality, a notion of progress, the importance of sociability, etc. In short, the prioritising of concepts is an inevitable feature of all ideologies but also a source of much diversity from within. Smith believes the authors have dedicated their efforts to "narrow themes" from "Democracy in America." The practice of looking for comforting passages and developments in the past to legitimise present political positions is unfortunately common. They have tried to convey, then, the importance of being sensitive to Tocqueville's intentions and the historical context, and how these considerations have informed their focus. The authors assure Smith that their argument does not represent an elitist agenda.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A