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April 28, 2003

the point of civics

I was interviewed over the weekend by a group called Civic Honors. The interview is posted here. It was an opportunity to say why I personally believe in civic engagement. I said:

My philosophical position would be something like this: (1) Volunteerism is an inadequate form of civic engagement, because it replaces political action with service, which does not address the root cause of problems or tap the political capacities of the volunteers. (2) Civic engagement should be cultivated for two reasons. First, if we don't deliberately teach it, the least advantaged among us will be the first to disengage, leading to political inequality later on. Second, civic participation is a good human activity. It is not the only or highest good activity: theoretical reflection, spiritual contemplation, appreciation of nature, creation of art, and care for family members are some of the other activities that are inherently good. All of these ends or projects are preferable to the forms of life that are more frequently advertised to young people: consumerism, athletics, and sexual gratification. Moreover, in public schools, we cannot teach activities connected to spirituality or care for family. Therefore, we ought to teach civic engagement (along with art and science) so that it is an option available to young people.

April 28, 2003 11:37 AM | category: advocating civic education | Comments


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