A happy system crasher at home and in conventional and democratic schools

Main Article Content

Eugene Matusov


Often, “system crashers” are portrayed as disturbed children (students) who actively break the institutional system work and disturb relationships with other people. However, some system crashers are perfectly happy children who, precisely due to their happiness, liveliness, and rich imagination, do not fit into a conventional school. In this paper, I provide a detailed case of such a happy system crasher at home and in conventional and democratic schools. I found out that at home, the parents of the system crasher often reflected and rethought their parenting practices, priorities, and values to shelter their child’s happy life, often at a great expense for themselves. In contrast, the conventional school either ignored or punished the happy system crasher to preserve its institutional practices and keep them smooth. I hypothesize that conventional school is aimed at promoting a disciplinary society by making students convenient, obedient, and useful citizens at the expense of the student’s authorial agency. In contrast, parents and democratic schools address a happy system crasher’s disruption of their lives by rethinking and renegotiating their practices. Finally, I argue that happy system crashers are essential for Democratic and Dialogic Education.

Article Details

How to Cite
Matusov, E. (2024). A happy system crasher at home and in conventional and democratic schools. Dialogic Pedagogy: A Journal for Studies of Dialogic Education, 12(1), E36-E57. https://doi.org/10.5195/dpj.2024.626
Author Biography

Eugene Matusov, University of Delaware, United States

Eugene Matusov is a Professor of Education at the University of Delaware. He studied developmental psychology with Soviet researchers working in the Vygotskian paradigm and worked as a schoolteacher before immigrating to the United States. He uses sociocultural and Bakhtinian dialogic approaches to education. His current research and practice focus is on Democratic Dialogic Education. His recent books include: Matusov, E. (2020), "Envisioning education in a post-work leisure-based society: A dialogic perspective." Matusov, E., Marjanovic-Shane, A., & Gradovski, M. (2019), "Dialogic pedagogy and polyphonic research art: Bakhtin by and for educators."


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