Exploring a Young Person’s Images of Responsibility for Others: A Significant Question for a Living Democracy

By Silvia Edling.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The distinction between democracy as procedure and democracy as a form of life shared with others was forcefully declared by Dewey in his book Democracy and Education from 1916 (p. 127). While the first aspect concentrates upon the forms and structures of democracy the second aspect accentuates the need to pay regard to the individual’s own actions in relation to others in the creation of a democratic society. Noticeable lately in debates about democracy and education is the apparent and intensified attention towards issues concerning ethics and values framed within ideas attached to liberalism and free market economy. Due to the founding of a decentralised system and the renaissance of values, transmitted through education – this time in the name of liberal democracy – the term responsibility intimately related to influence has been given an imperative position. What I find particularly interesting is the position responsibility for others has been assigned to secure the establishment of democracy as life.

Agreeing with the idea that education is vital in teaching young people to become responsible democratic citizens but disagreeing with the firm belief that providing knowledge in democracy necessarily has to do with rationality or the distribution of pre-defined values encourages a different approach towards knowledge, teaching, and learning. Perhaps a beginning to that approach would be to ask ourselves not only what we can teach young people but also how young people can teach us? The aim with this paper is to approach the meaning of responsibility as a social and moral joint through the images of responsibility created by young people. How do they describe the term and how can their description be understood from a broader sociological perspective?

Keywords: Living Democracy, Responsibility, Social Justice, Images

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp.171-178. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 553.841KB).

Mrs Silvia Edling

Doctoral Student, The Department of Teacher Education, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

Silvia Edling is a Doctoral Student at the Department of Teacher Education, Uppsala University. She earlier received her degree of Bachelor of Arts and Degree of Master Education at the same University. Her interest lies in the field of Democracy and Education where she strives to explore how young people in different ages and settings discursively construct images of proper behaviour towards others. The need for schools to foster good democratic spirit into the students is highly accentuated in western countries and is believed to be achieved through every individual’s freely chosen responsibility for others (democratic responses towards others). Edling is part of a research group SIDES located at Mälardalens högskola in Eskilstuna, and in a research project: Learning Democracy, edited by Carl-Anders Säfström.

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