Everyday Democratic Values: Actions and Relationships of Individuals

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In this assignment I will be addressing the ways that everyday democratic values and the language associated with democracy can be embedded in the actions and relationships of individuals working with children and young people. I will establish that democracy is a fundamental value in its own right, but that it has many components including other values such as respect and privacy along with the basis for the way in which we would like others to treat us. I will be outlining ‘everyday democracy’ and that this means the empowerment over decisions we make that directly affect our lives.

Next, I will determine the importance of democratic language and how it is reflected in different generations. I will consider the element of ‘power’ within these relationships and reflect on why, as a nation, we seem reluctant to use the language of everyday democracy with children and young people.

I will address how values, both personal and that of organisations can contribute to ethical practice by forming the ‘rules’ through which decisions are made. There are times when values and ethical practice may clash and reflecting on practice as individuals along with the children, young people and families with whom we work would be necessary.

I will consider competing values and social change in the teaching of citizenship in secondary schools. This was combined within lessons that emphasised the personal and individual and that to promote social structures and awareness – schools need lots more teachers with social science backgrounds.

Finally, I will address how to better develop everyday democracy by high-lighting the value of empowerment along with consideration of wider networks and hierarchical knowledges. I will also identify the importance of a ‘pedagogy of listening’ whereby as practitioners we hear and interpret meaning in different perspectives and how this shows democratic values and as a result I will reflect on how my own practice has developed.

First of all, we need to consider what everyday democratic values are? K218 Learning Guide 7, Section 7.3 (The Open University, 2012a) suggests that democracy is a fundamental value in its own right, but multi-faceted; with values such as empowerment, involvement and respect which are considered by most people as the basis for the way in which they want to be treated by others. Skidmore and Bound (cited in The Open University, 2012a) suggest that ‘Everyday Democracy’ means ‘a society in which people feel empowered over the decisions – both formal and informal – that affect their lives’ along with the need to feel like being the authors of their own scripts.

Secondly, we need to ascertain why democratic language is so important. On one hand, we need to consider how recent generations appear to be let down by democratic establishments. Skidmore and Bound (2008) suggest that as Europeans our disappointment has grown with less people than ever casting votes. Foley (2011) questions whether some adults feel the power of their vote is not equal to those with higher means who may be perceived as more powerful. On the other hand our commitment as individuals to democratic values has never been stronger as we wish to have more control of the choices that influence our lives. Foley (2011) implies that as democracy forms the fabric of this country, many feel it should ‘feature in the present lives of its children and young people, as well as in their future lives as adults’. Skidmore and Bound (2008) suggest that the ability to utilise these democratic values and rights is ‘not innate; it is learned, and it is learned first and foremost in the everyday places where people actually live their lives: in families, schools, workplaces and communities’.

I consider here how, as a nation, we are perhaps reluctant to use the language of everyday democracy with children and young people. Foley (2011) implies that although children and young people’s agency is limited,...
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