Critical Social Issues in American Education: Democracy and Meaning in a Globalizing World

By H. Svi Shapiro; David E. Purpel | Go to book overview

III
MARGINALITY AND DIFFERENCE:
THE FRACTURED COMMUNITY

Every migrant knows in his heart of hearts, that it is impossible to return. Even if he is physically able to return, he does not truly return, because he himself has been so deeply changed by this emigration…. Today, as soon as very early childhood is over, the home can never again be home, as it was in other epochs. This century, for all its wealth and with all its communication systems, is the century of banishment. (Berger, 1984, pp. 65–67)

Berger's powerful words take us into the unifying theme of Part II of this book—a theme now of immense significance in the United States as well as elsewhere in the world. For Berger and others, homelessness is the defining condition of humankind in the contemporary era. Many adults as well as young people feel estranged from the context in which they make their lives. Their sense of connection to where they live, work, and go to school is at best ambivalent and at worst filled with hostility. This sense of alienation marks their children's experience of education. Schools for many, as we know from so much research, do not reflect who one is, the community that shapes one's identity, or the knowledge and experience that constitutes one's culture. From this perspective, we see a world deeply scarred by what has been called the poison of separation. Our lives and our cultures are pervaded by fragmentation. Too little

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