Mandating inclusion : the paradox of community schooling in Saskatchewan
Community Schools in Saskatchewan offer tremendous potential for building and sustaining democratic communities. This potential is based on what is intended to be the participatory and inclusive nature of these schools. Notions of inclusion at the root of community school orientations to foster well-being emerged from a social-democratic tradition within education and have been explored to differing extents by educational, political, and social theorists. To date, few researchers have examined staff perceptions of inclusion, given the broad and nuanced definition of social inclusion I use here. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the perceptions of these individuals so critically positioned to impact the lives of children, youth and their families, and to frame them in a socio-political and critical theoretical context. In doing so, I focus on the relationship between community school policy and practice in Saskatchewan, examining inclusive processes in community schools, and applying a critical theoretical perspective that accounts for complex and dynamic trends within these schools. Using Habermas’s critical theory of society, I argue that both functional and communicative rationalization can be seen as converging in the body of community education literature, although functional rationalization is the more predominant, or colonizing, feature. This colonization subsequently leads to legitimation and motivation crises in Community Schooling in Saskatchewan, which can be seen in the low levels of participation of families and community members into school activities. Despite the challenges Community Schools are currently facing, I conclude there is room and opportunity for change at the school level, where stakeholders come together to reach common goals, and live out, at the local level, the ideals of community schooling.
community schools, inclusion, Habermas, critical theory, democratic education
Master of Arts (M.A.)