Identifying Soft Democratic Education: Uncovering the Range of Civic and Cultural Choices in Instructional Materials
The Social Studies
Although student deliberation of public issues is recognized as a vital component of democratic education, little research focuses on the range of perspectives available to students during such deliberation. Social justice and legitimacy demand a wide range of inclusion, choices, and perspectives during student deliberation. This article contrasts soft versus deliberative democratic education, where the range of perspectives is correspondingly narrow or broad. Unfortunately, research shows that social studies textbooks promote soft democratic education by privileging dominant cultural representations, ideologies, and metanarratives of American exceptionality. This article presents content analysis as a method for identifying the range of civic and cultural perspectives in curricula. Once these perspectives are identified, social studies educators can revise curricula to increase inclusion and strengthen student deliberation. To illustrate this method, the author examines two sets of instructional materials. While on opposite opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, the sets are similar in their narrow range of perspectives concerning controversial public issues.
Camicia, S. P. (2009). Identifying soft democratic education: Uncovering the range of civic and cultural choices in instructional materials. The Social Studies, 100(3), 136-142.