ERIC Number: ED306187
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988-Dec-16
Teaching Politics as Public Work: An Alternative Theory of Civic Education.
The conventional way of thinking about politics keeps us from studying the important work that citizens must do to achieve political efficacy. Students learn the procedures of government as if politics were a spectator sport. While everyone learns about the politics of government, there is little discussion about the politics of the public. Unless people are capable of doing the things that public politics require, they cannot effectively participate in the political life of the country. The core of political work is dealing with uncertainties--not about facts, but about the goals and purposes of government. Judgments are required when decisions are made without certainty and everything depends upon their quality. The purpose of judgment is to capture political realities through reflection and deliberation, not impression. Developing public judgment requires the integration of diverse points of view. In forming public judgments people must spend considerable time assessing the interrelations of their many interests and the long-term consequences of their policy options. It demands deliberation and reflection on experiences. In a democracy citizens need to be able to talk together in order to think together, to explore together, to compare, to synthesize. If public politics require such skills, surely the central task of a civic educator is to teach them. Direct experience in public work seems to be essential to learning public skills. Based on what the future is likely to require of politics, there is an educational imperative in sorting out what tasks are required in a diverse nation and even more diverse world. (GEA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Policymakers; Teachers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the National Conference on the Future of Civic Education (Washington, DC, October 5-6, 1988).