UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Education for social transformation : a quest for the practice of democracy Dykstra, Corina Maria


This study emerged from an awareness that educators comprehension of what is taking place in social movements (in social sites outside the formal institution) is most vital for understanding and linking adult education to the wider struggle for radical democracy. The Christian Task Force on Central America is a unique British Columbia wide solidarity network that provided the "practical" context to explore social change education. This case study used participant observation to examine the educational practice of the network. The study began by presenting the theoretical base, as developed from current literature, on education for social change. This included a critique of the dominant understanding and approach to social change education, reflecting a liberal philosophy of individualism and a pedagogy that is acritical and apolitical in nature. It was argued that this model of social change education strips social processes of their political nature and content by situating them within the framework of social adjustment. An alternative "transformative" social change model was presented; one that places greater stress on the relationship between education and social action. This included a discussion of three core elements: social change vision, a critical pedagogy and a pedagogy of mobilisation. The process of analysis involved exploring the Task Force as an transformative educational movement. The historical background to the network and its contemporary work was discussed. Key educational principles were identified from its practice and developed into a "grassroots" liberative theory of social change. The factors of "organisational structure" and "resources" were revealed as elements that have both a liberating and constraining effect on the work of the movement. The Task Force, as a case-study, illustrates the centrality and educational nature of the struggle for social justice. Educational activities of the network incorporate collective and active learning processes for social justice and are based upon a "practical" rather than speculative concept of social change. The study concludes that the radical possibility of education lies within the process of education itself; it is not so much the content as the method of practice which is vital in creating the conditions of a participatory democracy, here and now. Recommendations for further research were suggested for those interested in examining further the role of education within social movements.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.