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.
In this posting, David Randall, author of Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics, argues that civic life in America has benefited by abundant forms of civic participation and active citizenship is a welcome part of public life, but it doesn't belong in schools. Teachers cannot include civic practice since all are equally qualified to act as citizens by virtue of turning 18.
We need a different kind of politics beyond binary thinking -- in education and more broadly. This is active citizenship, beyond left and right. We have profound resources in our history.