Neutrality, Pluralism, and Education: Civic Education as Learning About the Other

Studies in Philosophy and Education 23 (4):235-263 (2004)
The purpose of this article is to investigate appropriate methods for educating students into citizenship within a pluralistic state and to explain why civic education is itself important. In this discussion, I will offer suggestions as to how students might be best prepared for their future political roles as participants in a democracy, and how we, as theorists, ought to structure institutions and curricula in order to ensure that students are adequately trained for political decision making. The paper is divided into six sections. In the first two sections, I argue that community is a learned understanding and that such education,even when it supports liberal commitments,cannot be neutral. I use the social contract tradition as an entrance into the perpetual nature of conflict within a pluralist society. In the third and fourth sections, I develop a pedagogy geared towards educating students into what I call cognitive conflict, and argue that the arts, widely understood, should be privileged over other disciplines. In the fifth section, I examine two difficulties inherent inmy pedagogy — first that it seems to demandthat all perspectives be taught, and second that it seems to promote anxiety among students. In the final section, I ask that political theory reexamine the role of harmony in justice. I conclude that a managed conflictis a more acceptable organizational description of liberal political structures
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Education   Education   Assessment, Testing and Evaluation
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DOI 10.1023/B:SPED.0000028333.81199.8e
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