Just finishing up Hecht’s Democratic Education. Here is an excerpt that describes his view that democratic education is part of a larger paradigm shift towards the emergence of a true “democratic culture”:
We are not in the midst of a passing wave, but rather in a process of changing stages or a quantum leap. If during the 19th century there was a period of “democratic ideas”, such as in the USA, where there was democracy and equality, but not for women or blacks, and in the 20th century we see the emergence of democratic governments who used democratic procedures but continued to maintain “undemocratic cultures”, in the 21st century an opportunity is emerging for a quantum leap that will be the harbinger of “democratic culture”.
Democratic culture is a culture which helps each individual to express his own uniqueness within the community. This is on the basis of human rights and sustainability in various living environments. It has two components:
One — the commitment of society to the creation of possibilities, frameworks and resources, which can help each individual discover and develop his uniqueness and express it in the community where he lives.
The second — the adherence to principles: commitment to a democratic culture means taking an activist standpoint. The citizen who is committed to democracy may be called upon to struggle for his rights, the rights of those around him, and those of individuals and societies throughout the world.
Democratic culture encourages the citizen towards active commitment to the advancement of social values such as equality, liberty and social responsibility, and towards active support of the implementation of human rights.