ERIC Number: ED428004
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Sep-4
The Meanings of Civic Education: Theoretical Perspectives on Classroom Practice.
This paper claims that if educators are to make logical and consistent decisions about what methods of civic education they wish to employ, a debate over the goals of civic education needs to be apparent. The meanings of concepts that are at the heart of any civic education curriculum are in fact themselves contested. Much has been written about different kinds of democracy, such as "strong" versus "weak," or "liberal" versus "participatory republican." For the most part, however, the implications of these distinctions have not been thoroughly examined. Citizenship is the most significantly contested concept, and conservative and transformative perspectives offer radically different answers. Civic education conservatives are not as concerned with the ends of political decision-making as they are with the means. The conservative perspective on civic education has managed to forge a strong, well-financed, and prominent coalition drawing on right, center, and left in U.S. political life to promote an agenda based on strengthening civil society. A transformative perspective is characterized by a specific commitment to a Deweyan concept of democracy as an all-encompassing way of life, a more egalitarian social and economic system, and what might be called the "richness of difference" in gender, race, and ethnicity. Civic education in this context would be explicitly oriented towards teaching students how to search for better alternatives to the present political and economic system which has failed to achieve these goals. If a choice is going to be made as to what makes sense in civic education on any level, including higher education, all the options should be considered. (Contains 57 references.) (BT)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A