Follett Conversation on Creative Democracy: Research Teams LO31076

From: Matthew Shapiro (
Date: 05/04/04

Please post; apologies for cross-posting!

The Mary Parker Follett Conversation on Creative Democracy 2004 --
October 21-24 Boise, Idaho, USA

Proposed Research Conversation Teams

The following teams have been proposed and are open for participation.
If you are interested in joining one of these teams, please contact the
appropriate team coordinator as soon as possible. You must be willing
to attend the Follett Conversation in person in order to participate
(see the Call for Participants on our website,

It is highly recommended that you join one of these teams and
participate in the preparatory phase if you plan to attend the Follett
Conversation. However, attendees who have not chosen a team may find
openings at the Conversation event, depending on the policy of the

Important: The registration deposit of $50 is due by July 1, with the
balance of $175 due August 1. Travel and accommodations are the
responsibility of the attendee. We have hotel recommendations listed in
the Call for Participants, which can be downloaded from

List of Teams (followed by full descriptions)

Team A: Education for Full Participation in a Democracy
Team B: Social Justice Through Literacy
Team C: Imagining a Creative America - A Performance and Town Meeting
Team D: Envisioning an Iraqi Model of Democracy

Education for Full Participation in a Democracy
Mike Poutiatine, Mark Beattie, Dr. Karen Norum, Colleen Daniel, Brian Dunlap

We believe that in order to "fulfill the promise of democracy as a
creative experience, one that releases both personal and social
potential, from the local to the global level," every individual must
be able to participate fully in such a society. Furthermore, full
participation requires a certain amount of shared beliefs and
behaviors-culture, to be short-which society transmits to its members
through a process known generally as "education."

Social institutions of education, therefore, must promote the beliefs
and behaviors necessary for full participation in democracy in order to
release the potential of that promise.

Triggering Question: From this conclusion arises our question: What
does it mean to be educated for full participation in a democracy?

We propose to pursue this question through study and conversation in
several themes, including but not limited to
the relationship of education and social justice
the role of leadership in democratic education
the relationship between participative democracy and education
the value, necessity, and process of educational reforms

Preparation: To address this question completely some understanding of
the American vision of the public school might be in order, as well as
an understanding of the development of the public school idea in our
national consciousness.

Our team currently consists primarily of students and faculty in the
Gonzaga University Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies, but we would
benefit from collaboration with individuals willing to join our study.
We especially welcome people with expertise or experience in the
thematic areas mentioned above who are willing to continue reading and
dialoguing with us over the coming months. We intend to make use of
the on-line BlackBoard learning system as much as we can. We can
enroll others from outside Gonzaga University in the BlackBoard system.

Social Justice Through Literacy
Anne Gregory, Carolyn Loffer, Mary Ann Rawley, Jennifer Snow-Gerono,
and Debra Yates

The lens of literacy in this theme proposal is used as a means for
studying social justice in teaching and learning. According to Henkin
(1998), literacy offers a vehicle for helping "all of our students to
gain greater understanding and insight into all the peoples of the
world. Literacy can serve as a tool to open our worlds and help us to
better understand and accept all human beings" (p. 3). Likewise, Gee
(1992) offers the notion of literacy as an "identity kit," where people
associate with particular social groups through the use of language.
Gee's (1992) definition of literacy expands the concept to the act of
reading and utilizing multiple literacies, "Literacy is control of
secondary uses of language" (p. 25). According to Slonaker (2001), it
is through language learning that we gain the meta-knowledge to
critique the multiple discourses we encounter in our everyday lives.
Thus, Gee's definition of literacy contributes "some degree of being
able to 'use,' [and] to 'function' with." language (Gee, 1992, p. 26).
This conversation is geared toward broadening educators'
consideration(s) of literacy and how it may be used to teach for social
justice (Henkin, 1998).

Literacy learning is socially constructed (Comber & Nixon, 1999; Gee,
1992, 2001). Situated at the center of literacy rests an adherence to
power and power relationships constructed through interactions and
participation in social groups. As literacy educators, we often invite
children to join the 'literacy club' without considering whose clubs
they are, what kinds of identities are required, and who might be
excluded (Comber & Nixon, 1999; Delpit, 1995). We are mitigating and
minimizing the potential of pedagogy for social justice. This
reluctance to examine the unanticipated effects of school literacy,
literacy practices, and forms of literacy creates a normative rather
than transformative context for learning that enables images and myths
of children and their learning to be generated. Without an analysis of
how language and literacy practices work in social and political
contexts for and against groups, we perpetuate the stories that have
and are continuing to be told about literacy learning, a normative

Triggering Question: How do the present and constructed Discourse
structures (i.e., "enacting meaningful socially situated identities and
activities" (Gee, 2001, p. 35)) in classrooms promote and perpetuate
the values, beliefs, and power of the dominant cultural group?

Preparation: Originators of this theme would like to see participants
engage in an exploration of literature surrounding literacy, teaching
for social justice, and democratic education in an effort to build a
framework for this conversation prior to the June start of
distance-based inquiry.

New Participants: The team is open to new participants until July 1.

Imagining a Creative America - A Performance and Town Meeting
Tom Tresser

This team would create an event that combines elements of performance,
spoken word, lecture and town meeting. The idea is to celebrate
creativity as a fundamental American value and vital to the continued
vigor of its body politic and economy. The core of the event is to have
participants give voice to their personal vision of what a Creative
America looks like or what it would require in order for every citizen
to be able to express her full creativity and contribute to the
fullest. We capture these statements real-time on video and by a visual
facilitator who creates a visual synthesis of the statement using
icons, cartoons and text. This is done on large sheets of butcher paper
on the wall - the effect is to create a wall-sized tapestry of the
collective vision statements. This over-sized document becomes a
non-traditional policy statement which my organization folds into an
ongoing series of such statements.

Triggering Question: What would it take for America to be a country
where every person could express or fulfill their creativity to the max
- thus being able to contribute and invent new possibilities for us

Preparation: Read "The Rise of the Creative Class" by Richard Florida.

New Participants: This group would be open to all who wanted to explore
the subject.

Envisioning an Iraqi Model of Democracy
Matthew Shapiro

The war in Iraq has ostensibly sought to create a "clean slate" for
political reform in a recently totalitarian nation. But is there such a
thing as a "clean slate" for a complex society with ancient roots?
There is an intention on the part of Westerners to see established a
secular, Western-style democracy succeed in Iraq. Can such a model
succeed there? A competing alternative may be found in Islamist
participatory concepts such as consultative leadership, consensus, and
reinterpretation of traditional ideals. While an Islamist model of
democracy might be more readily accepted, it may not be any easier to
realize than a Western secular model, because democracy in any form is
a way of life that needs to be learned generation by generation.

Triggering Question: How could a model of creative democracy be
developed that is authentically Iraqi, draws from the diversity of
Iraqi society, and sets an example for other nations (particularly
Islamic nations) undergoing political transition?

Preparation: In our preparation phase, we will consider the cultural,
social, political, and historical context of Iraq through both common
and individual readings. Participants might divide the task of
researching various aspects and then reporting their findings to the
group. Due respect will be given to the principle that we cannot design
a democracy for the Iraqi people; only they can do that. But we may be
able to offer scaffolding that has added value during this time of
conflict and opportunity.

New Participants: This team is fully open to new participants until
July 1.


"Matthew Shapiro" <>

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