The recent Making Citizens report is mistaken about the youth civic education initiative Public Achievement -- it reflects itself the mobilizing, good versus evil approach which has come to dominate public life in our time, the approach to politics it also decries. The debate has also illuminated possible common ground to integrate civics and citizenship education and move beyond binary thinking.
Democratic practices in schools can help prepare the young for adulthood, writes Deborah Meier.
David Randall, Communications Director of the National Association of Scholars, makes his third set of comments in our discussion about his report. He agrees that civic learning can never be reduced to only those things that can be learned in a classroom. But he thinks citizenship and experiential education should take place out of school.
It is an ineluctable dynamic that when one polarizes, one purifies. This means eliminating the complexity of "the other side" that one sees as the enemy. In my view this is a serious problem of the National Association of Scholars report, "Making Citizens." It collapses the vast diversity of the civic engagement movement into a left wing conspiracy undertaken with stealth and subterfuge. This is a caricature. Nonviolence as a philosophy brought together with repair of civic life points beyond today's polarization. We need a reawakening to nonviolence tied to repair of civic life.
Like allowing free speech in society, teaching democratic ideals in schools poses risks. But those risks are worthwhile, writes Deborah Meier.