Journal of Culture and Values in Education



Guest Editor: Stephen K. Lafer, Ph.D

Culture is a phenomenon that is a potent force in the lives of human beings and many believe that respect for a person’s culture is essential to respecting the person.  The adverse, that to disrespect a person’s culture is to disrespect the person, gives rise to an important concern that the editor would like to have considered in this edition.  Culture, in part because culture does influence character, and is a major force in shaping character, honest critique of culture and cultures is affected in meaningful ways by the desire not to offend, culture, out of respect, made too sensitive a topic to fully explore.

For this edition, it is expected from contributors to take an honest look at culture and how culture can or does act to limit the development of the minds, the growth of individuals as individual thinkers.  In this sense, culture exists in some instances, perhaps all, as an oppressive force, a particularly devastating force if it is important that individuals be allowed to discover the uniqueness of self as an intellectually competent human being.

The argument will be made by the editor that this is so and that the ramifications of culturally sponsored and culturally enforced limitations on the development of human intellect, on freedom to think as an individual are profound, not only in terms of the harm done individuals but, also, the harm done societies populated by human beings not allowed to discover power of their own minds, such discovery being the essence of a truly human existence, of one’s own humanity.  As Freire tells us, the main problem plaguing our existence is inhumanity.  He argues that humanization is a possibility.  That possibility, the editor contends, is possible only if individuals are able to find their own self-worth, the value of themselves as human beings made valuable in a society by the uniqueness of their mentality, their ability to think originally and the usefulness of their thinking to the other human beings with whom they live.  Valuing self is critical to having reason to value others.

Schools, while their purpose should be to help their students discover their own intellectual powers, their ability to think originally, train them to cultural norms that may or may not be virtuous and humane, but which, it is expected, they will follow uncritically.  Schools act to control and prepare people who are amenable to being controlled, to a large extent on a subconscious level, the individual knowing what is right and what is wrong without being asked to consider what right or wrong means or what it is that is right or wrong about that that is being considered.  Religion overtly trains in this way.  Schools more covertly training thinking by presenting as true the thoughts of others who the culture recognizes to be the good thinkers, this and the righteousness of conformance to school rules and school routines without questioning of their efficacy or sense.

The editor will argue that a different kind of school is needed if humanization is to take place and, too, that humanization is absolutely necessary for the survival of human beings and human societies.  When people appreciate their existence, know their worth and the wonder of possessing the abilities for which the human mind allows, they appreciate the value of selves.  Schooling, as Ivan Ilych recommended the “deschooling” of society because in his analysis schools prevented people from becoming wise enough about the real to participate effectively in the decision making processes of societies that have pretended to be democratic, that are not democratic because people are taught to allow others to make decisions for them because they are made to understand that they are not smart enough to do so for themselves.  This is a cultural teaching, widespread and it allows the many to be dominated by a relative few. 

The kind of education necessary to sustain democracy is education that liberates people, that helps them to believe in their own ability to make sense of things, figure out both what is and what can possibly be done to affect what is and what is going to be.  Culture must not be taught as sacred and sacrosanct, immutable.  Students need to be helped to become proper critics of their cultures so that they are made able and willing to do the work of changing cultural norms and norm governed behaviors when good sense says that such is necessary. 

Freire suggests that “problem-solving” education is a proper model for liberation and the development of truly democratic societies.  Teachers teach but they also listen to and work with their students to understand things, including culture, from multiple perspectives, perspectives generated by the minds of all individuals involved in the educational process, teachers and students working together toward the development of answers to the questions that arise in the dialectic of learning that comes about when several or many are focused on the same question or problem.

The editor is calling upon authors for this edition of the journal to wrestle honestly with the question that arise when culture is made problematic and the problem of culture is studied without the constraints, without fear for offending, this made a civil exercise by the goal of the process, to determine what the effects of culture are on people, particularly in terms of the constraints it imposes on the development of individuality and the intellect of individuals.  Writers are invited to contend with the premises offered by the editor, to support them, or offer different perspectives that should be explored to get at the true meaning of culture for the lives of people living lives in the present era and into the future.

This is not a call for the traditional research paper though, if some are doing research that deals with the fundamental issues described above, they will be welcomed for consideration.  So will papers that are thought pieces, theoretical and philosophical essays that explore the interface of culture, individuality, and the role of schools in relation to the transmission of cultural values and the potential of educating for the liberation of individuals through engagement in meaningful and honest cultural critique. 

Proposal Submission

It is expected from prospective authors to send an email to by December 15, 2018 that includes the followings:

  • Cover page: Name of the author/authors, title, current position, institution, mailing address, phone number, e-mail
  • Proposed Paper:  Title of the paper, abstract (should be 500-700 words, included theoretical framework and organizational structure for the manuscript (including key headings/subheadings)).
  • A Short Biographical Statement

All proposals should be written in accordance with the latest version of the APA style manual and submitted as Word attachments with the subject line ‘, LAST NAME_19’ to the guest editor, Dr. Lafer.

Schedule for Publication

Abstract submission due by: December 15, 2018

Preliminary acceptance granted by: December 25, 2018

Full chapter drafts due by: February, 2019

Anticipated publication: March, 2019

Please feel free to contact the editors if you have any questions.

  • Call for Papers Special Theme Issue: Opposing Exclusionary Democracy: Culture and Values beyond Reactionary Populism


    Journal of Culture and Values in Education

    Call for Papers

    Special Theme Issue:

    Opposing Exclusionary Democracy: Culture and Values beyond Reactionary Populism

    Guest Co-Editors: Christopher G. Robbins and Joe Bishop

     send papers to and 

    Final Submissions due no later than September 25, 2019. 


    Critiques, popular and scholarly alike, have considered the seemingly sudden rise of reactionary populism in recent years. From the Brexit vote in England and election of Theresa May as British prime minister to the consolidation and, the startling electoral college victory of Trump in the U.S., alongside an emboldened white supremacism and similar hard right turns in Brazil, the Philippines, and other places, rumblings of a hardened, even authoritarian, conservatism can be identified in many Western and other putatively democratic societies. Such critiques often point to a crisis of modern democracy, perhaps its inversion or even its rejection, given the unabashedly hostile, exclusionary and illiberal claims and visions upon which new populisms rest. New, resurgent or intensified, reactionary populisms, however, coexist with significant progressive movements, reflecting a fracturing of the polity that some argue is the consequence of the asymmetrical allocation of power and opportunities, threats to existential security, and migrations of peoples caused by neoliberal globalization. Responses to these societal and global shifts inherently concern visions, values, and the active cultures that materialize them. Put differently, contemporary societal responses to neoliberal globalization present challenges that are, at their root, educational in character, and challenge democracy and the formative cultures on which it depends. These identifiable social and political trends raise new questions about education, formal and informal, and the pedagogies requisite of a vital, participatory, and inclusionary democracy. With rare exception, analyses of the new populisms largely overlook educational concerns and questions.       


    We invite pieces that address one or more of the following or other topics related to the theme of the issue including ones that merge poetic form with analytic content as well as empirical studies:

    • What specific events have led to the current, fragmented situation as it plays out in education?
    • How have reactions against reactionary populism been stifled in educational and other institutions?
    • What role does one’s economic situation play in the rise of the new populism?
    • How can a progressive education counter current exclusionary practices in a context of increasing standardization?
    • How are various circulating values disseminated and countered?
    • Why have identity politics superseded every other form of political grievance, and what might be essential pedagogical considerations to make in broadening and linking related but seemingly disparate interests around values and relationships essential to inclusive and participatory democracy?
    • Reactionary populisms make appeals, as the New Right in the 1970s and 1980s did, to “values” and a social order on which those values allegedly rested. How can progressive pedagogies reenter values debates and make values claims? What values?
    • How might progressive pedagogies and analyses consider the ways in which new populisms have co-opted and manipulated left critiques of Truth (e.g., alternative facts, fake news)?


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