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Experiencing Democratic Education: Political Theory and Public Achievement
Unformatted Document Text:  Hildreth 23 you’re putting these [college students] out with two months training, having to read all these contradicting theories and then put into this school setting. What are they gonna do? Some people are ready for it but some people aren’t. I know I wasn’t. I know a lot of other coaches that weren’t. And to try to instigate these kids into doing community things with such limits, and coming from the school, first of all. You’ve gotta break those barriers at school to be able to break anything in the community. But then again, the optimistic side of me comes in and says working in the school and working with what you have and working with a little knowledge that you derived from these theories, you still did it, you still survived. While Jasmine had a difficult time the entire year, her experience was particularly colored by an incident with her students and the subsequent reaction of the school administration. Transcripts like this are difficult to read, but very instructive. In particular, this situation highlights the need for more careful reflection so that college students can process and make sense of difficult experiences without “turning off” from politics. Third, students re-thought what politics means to them. Most often, they expanded their definition to include citizen action: a number of students (5) commented on how they now re- defined politics in terms of people taking action to solve public problems, in addition to issues of governance. They often related this new view of politics to the dynamics of their group and/or how their groups negotiated the politics of the school. Some took this notion of everyday politics and viewed it in terms of a “game,” with rules but considerable leeway for citizens to “play” in solving problems. Fiona applied this redefinition to her everyday life, commenting, I think about citizenship more. Like what it means to be a citizen, and not [just] in the sense of politics, like I don’t think about politics like what I’m gonna vote, or what the issues, but in the sense of, the world of politics. Like, we go to a restaurant and our service is bad or something like that, and I’m more likely to go talk to somebody about it, and say just so that people are aware of what’s going on, and acting more like a citizen in that way. Like being more… I don’t know what you call it, but just being more aware of what’s going on in the world and how like my city runs. And my neighborhood, like thinking about myself not as me, but in a world, in a neighborhood, you know… Fiona was not only thinking about citizenship more, and in different ways, she was able to articulate how she was living citizenship and practicing politics in her everyday life.

Authors: Hildreth, Roudy.
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Hildreth
23
you’re putting these [college students] out with two months training, having to read all these
contradicting theories and then put into this school setting. What are they gonna do? Some
people are ready for it but some people aren’t. I know I wasn’t. I know a lot of other coaches
that weren’t. And to try to instigate these kids into doing community things with such limits, and
coming from the school, first of all. You’ve gotta break those barriers at school to be able to
break anything in the community. But then again, the optimistic side of me comes in and says
working in the school and working with what you have and working with a little knowledge that
you derived from these theories, you still did it, you still survived.
While Jasmine had a difficult time the entire year, her experience was particularly colored by an
incident with her students and the subsequent reaction of the school administration. Transcripts
like this are difficult to read, but very instructive. In particular, this situation highlights the need
for more careful reflection so that college students can process and make sense of difficult
experiences without “turning off” from politics.
Third, students re-thought what politics means to them. Most often, they expanded their
definition to include citizen action: a number of students (5) commented on how they now re-
defined politics in terms of people taking action to solve public problems, in addition to issues of
governance. They often related this new view of politics to the dynamics of their group and/or
how their groups negotiated the politics of the school. Some took this notion of everyday
politics and viewed it in terms of a “game,” with rules but considerable leeway for citizens to
“play” in solving problems. Fiona applied this redefinition to her everyday life, commenting,
I think about citizenship more. Like what it means to be a citizen, and not [just] in the sense of
politics, like I don’t think about politics like what I’m gonna vote, or what the issues, but in the
sense of, the world of politics. Like, we go to a restaurant and our service is bad or something
like that, and I’m more likely to go talk to somebody about it, and say just so that people are
aware of what’s going on, and acting more like a citizen in that way. Like being more… I don’t
know what you call it, but just being more aware of what’s going on in the world and how like
my city runs. And my neighborhood, like thinking about myself not as me, but in a world, in a
neighborhood, you know…
Fiona was not only thinking about citizenship more, and in different ways, she was able to
articulate how she was living citizenship and practicing politics in her everyday life.


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