Democracy, Education and The Public Space: When Do Students Become Citizens? A Teacher’s Reflections on a Political Protest at School


  • Lloyd Kornelsen University of Winnipeg



This article describes a funding announcement by the prime minister of Canada at a high school in Winnipeg in February of 1998. The announcement was interrupted by a student protest, one that invoked harsh public criticism. Written from the perspective of a high school social studies teacher of 24 years, and drawing on eminent philosophers of politics and education, the paper discusses several implications for the practice of democracy and the involvement of youth in the public arena. The author concludes that youth involvement in public protest should be seen as an act that preserves democracy and one that serves as citizenship pedagogy. If so, teachers must navigate a pedagogic dilemma at the heart of citizenship education. Given the recent passage of Bill C 55 by the Canadian Parliament and the questions it raised over the role of public dissent, this discussion may be as relevant and necessary today as it was in 1998.