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Educating for citizenship : transformation and activism through reflective accountability Dow, Martha Christine

Abstract

This study examines the connections between a commitment to educating for citizenship in the university and pedagogical strategies used to realize the goals associated with this commitment. One of the most common themes of the political philosophy and education literature regarding citizenship has to do with communicating across our differences. I used Jodi Dean's (1996) concept of reflective solidarity to explore the possibilities of this communication, particularly in the face of claims to morality. Reflective solidarity focuses on the communicative nature of solidarity by exploring contestation across our differences as we work toward understanding. I interviewed ten educators from a variety of disciplines at the University of British Columbia to explore their experiences translating this commitment to social justice into practice. My analysis of their contributions resulted in three primary categories and numerous sub-categories of data that I referred to as (a) perspective on theory (the university as a site for citizenship education, defining educating for citizenship); (b) perspective on self (curriculum as contested space, teacher's role, selfreflective practice, solidarity through difference); and (c) perspective on other (voice, silence, listening, pluralism, safety and risk, power). All of the participants discussed the dynamics of power, voice, silence, risk, pluralism and resistance that characterize their efforts to educate in a manner that promotes social justice. The pedagogical challenge of responding to heterosexism and homophobia in the classroom was specifically identified as difficult and increasingly contentious. This theme became central as I wove together the literature, the participants' contributions and my own experiences. As a response to Dean's inattention to the context of the communicative relationships at the core of reflective solidarity, I propose the idea of reflective accountability. Reflective accountability challenges critical educators to think deeply about the sometimes taken-for-granted aspects of educating for social justice. Reflective accountability necessitates a critique of open public discourse and understanding as the unassailable cornerstone of education and highlights the possibility that there may be times when certain points of view need to be more critically examined, challenged and perhaps silenced when they are grounded in oppression.

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