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July 28, 2003

liberalism and republicanism in the classroom

I'm just back from Chestertown, MD (a really nice colonial town where George Washington slept a lot). I was there to teach some elementary-through-high-school teachers about classical liberalism versus civic republicanism. The teachers are folks who use the "We the People Program" produced by the Center for Civic Education; this is their state summer institute. They seemed to be pretty interested in the subject, although like all Americans they find it easier to grasp liberalism than civic republicanism. This is interesting (to them as well as me), since many of the motivations behind public education are civic republican rather than liberal. That is: a pure liberal may worry that making children into good citizens is "mind control" and represents illicit state support for a particular form of life, whereas a civic republican says that good government rests on active, engaged citizens—and civic engagement is inherently good. Social studies teachers are in the business of making good citizens, yet they are instinctively philosophical liberals. The tension or irony is not lost on them.

July 28, 2003 3:32 PM | category: advocating civic education | Comments


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