Developing Democratic Engagement in School: can becoming co-operative help? (FORUM 3)
Author: DEBORAH RALLS
One hundred years have passed since John Dewey’s seminal Democracy and Education (1916), yet academics and practitioners continue to search for ways in which democratic relationships in education can be enacted. This article uses a case study of an English Co-operative school to explore how far becoming co-operative can support a shift in the type of engaged relationships that schools have with stakeholders (students, parents, community) towards Dewey’s participatory democracy in education. Can Co-operative schools offer the potential to envision an alternative to current English education policy discourse by engaging students and families as members of a collective democracy rather than as individual consumers? The author shows where forms and understandings of engagement offer potential for democratic relationships through processes of democratic governance and collective responsibility. The article also explores the tensions that emerge between Co-operative school practices and external policy constraints, and the challenges of becoming co-operative.