ERIC Number: ED468290
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2002-Apr
What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy.
Westheimer, Joel; Kahne, Joseph
The notion of democracy occupies a privileged place in our society. Educators and policymakers are increasingly pursuing a variety of programs to promote democracy through civic education, service learning, and other pedagogies. The nature of their underlying beliefs, however, differs. This article underscores the political implications of education for democracy and suggests that the narrow and often ideologically conservative conception of citizenship embedded in many current efforts at teaching for democracy reflects not arbitrary choices but rather political choices with political consequences. Three conceptions of the "good" citizen are treated in this article: personally responsible, participatory, and justice oriented. They emerged from an analysis of both democratic theory and a 2-year study of educational programs aiming to promote democracy. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data from two of the programs studied, it is argued that these conceptions embody significantly different beliefs regarding the capacities and commitments citizens need for democracy to flourish, and they carry significantly different implications for pedagogy, curriculum, evaluation, and educational policy. The authors conclude that politics and the interests of varied groups are often deeply embedded in the ways efforts to educate for democracy are conceptualized, implemented, and studied. (Contains 34 references and 3 tables.) (RT)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Surdna Foundation, Inc., New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 1-5, 2002).