Democratic Education (Revised edition)

Democratic Education (Revised edition)

Amy Gutmann
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 334
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7sdfv
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Democratic Education (Revised edition)
    Book Description:

    Who should have the authority to shape the education of citizens in a democracy? This is the central question posed by Amy Gutmann in the first book-length study of the democratic theory of education. The author tackles a wide range of issues, from the democratic case against book banning to the role of teachers' unions in education, as well as the vexed questions of public support for private schools and affirmative action in college admissions.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2291-1
    Subjects: Education, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION
    (pp. xi-2)
    Amy Gutmann
  4. INTRODUCTION: BACK TO BASICS
    (pp. 3-18)

    When citizens rule in a democracy, they determine, among other things, how future citizens will be educated. Democratic education is therefore a political as well as an educational ideal. Because being educated as a child entails being ruled, “you cannot be a ruler unless you have first been ruled.”¹ Because being a democratic citizen entails ruling, the ideal of democratic education is being ruled, then ruling. Education not only sets the stage for democratic politics, it plays a central role in it. Its dual role poses one of the primary moral problems of politics: Who should share the authority to...

  5. CHAPTER ONE STATES AND EDUCATION
    (pp. 19-47)

    “We are born weak, we need strength; helpless, we need aid; foolish, we need reason. All that we lack at birth, that we need when we come to man’s estate, is the gift of education.” So broadly understood as what we learn “from nature, from men, and from things,”¹ the gift of education may make us who we are, but is not ours to give. Like Rousseau, we therefore direct our concern to that portion of education most amenable to our influence: the conscious efforts of men and women to inform the intellect and to shape the character of less...

  6. CHAPTER TWO THE PURPOSES OF PRIMARY EDUCATION
    (pp. 48-70)

    “Education, in a great measure, forms the moral characters of men, and morals are the basis of government.”¹ The implications of Noah Webster’s claim are at least as controversial today as they were in 1790. “Education,” Webster argued, “should therefore be the first care of a legislature, not merely the institution of schools but the furnishing of them with the best teachers. … I shall almost adore that great man who shall change our practice and opinions and make it respectable for the first and best men to superintend the education of youth.” That great man—or woman—has yet...

  7. CHAPTER THREE DIMENSIONS OF DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION
    (pp. 71-94)

    What structure of authority do democratic principles recommend for primary schools? Even if there were no principled limits on democratic authority, the answer to this question would not be obvious. We would still need to ask which democratic community—local, state, or national—should have authority over schools. Were democratic authority constrained to do whatever is right with regard to education, the answer would also be elusive. Who can be entrusted with implementing the right educational policies? Although we earlier imagined a Moralist Teachers’ Union that implements all the correct educational policies, the MTU was not intended as an alias...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR THE LIMITS OF DEMOCRATIC AUTHORITY
    (pp. 95-126)

    The democratic purposes of primary schooling constrain as well as empower democratic communities, but not in the name of parental choice, liberal autonomy, or conservative virtue. The principles of nonrepression and nondiscrimination limit democratic authority in the name of democracy itself. A society is undemocratic—it cannot engage in conscious social reproduction—if it restricts rational deliberation or excludes some educable citizens from an adequate education. Nonrepression and nondiscrimination are therefore intrinsic to the ideal of a democratic society, as parental choice, liberal autonomy, and conservative virtue are not. Chapter One developed a theoretical defense of this suggestion. This chapter...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE DISTRIBUTING PRIMARY SCHOOLING
    (pp. 127-171)

    If its main purpose is to develop democratic character, how should primary schooling be distributed? It does not require an extended philosophical analysis to say something significant about how schooling should not be distributed: not by the market—children of poor and uninterested parents will not receive it; not by unconstrained democratic decision—children of disfavored minorities will be relegated to inferior schools. This much should be common-sensically clear and is broadly acknowledged in the United States, at least today.

    A more positive answer, however, requires a more systematic and sustained analysis, for at least three reasons. On many distributive...

  10. CHAPTER SIX THE PURPOSES OF HIGHER EDUCATION
    (pp. 172-193)

    Higher education cannot succeed unless lower education does. If high schools are not educating most students up to the democratic threshold, then many colleges and universities will continue the primary education of their students. Many American colleges have already assumed this role: most community colleges offer high-school graduates a second chance at achieving basic literacy, often for the explicit sake of helping them get a job. The fact that most American colleges compete for students rather than vice versa reinforces this market perspective on higher education. The perspective is both pedagogically and morally uncomfortable. Most professors are neither trained nor...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN DISTRIBUTING HIGHER EDUCATION
    (pp. 194-231)

    Although many Americans think of colleges and universities as selective institutions, most are open to all applicants who have a high-school degree and can afford the tuition. As long as it remains difficult to get an adequate education or a good job without a college degree, there will be reason to support a substantial sector of nonselective community colleges and state universities.¹ But it would be a mistake for democratic governments to support nonselective universities at the expense of selective ones. The primary democratic purposes of the two sets of institutions are distinct. An improved system of primary schools would...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT EXTRAMURAL EDUCATION
    (pp. 232-255)

    As democratic education does not begin, so it does not end, with the schooling of youth. “It is a commonplace to say,” John Dewey said, “that education should not cease when one leaves school.”¹ The commonplace has more than one point, just as democratic education has more than one purpose.² Good schools stimulate rather than quench the thirst for learning. But even good schools are unlikely to succeed if they are oases of learning in a society otherwise barren of democratic education.

    The wisdom that education should not end with the schooling of youth does not tell us whose responsibility...

  13. CHAPTER NINE EDUCATING ADULTS
    (pp. 256-281)

    Democratic education continues after school not only for children but for adults who learn from books, plays, concerts, museums, newspapers, radio, and even television. “What one knows is, in youth, of little moment; they know enough who know how to learn.”¹ But many adults in our society, less fortunate than Henry Adams, do not learn enough in school to continue their education without the aid of more formal instruction. A substantial minority of American citizens are functionally illiterate. They need a second chance at schooling. Many adults who are literate want to further their formal education. Yet the responsibilities of...

  14. CONCLUSION: THE PRIMACY OF POLITICAL EDUCATION
    (pp. 282-291)

    “Nor can we regard a republic as disorderly,” Machiavelli wrote, “where so many virtues were seen to shine. For good examples are the results of good education, and good education is due to good laws; and good laws in their turn spring from those very agitations which have been so inconsiderately condemned by many.”¹ Whether or not Machiavelli was right about Rome, his general argument expresses an important truth about democratic education: good laws, which are the consequence of peaceful political agitation in a democracy, are the source of good education, and good education in turn creates good citizens.

    We...

  15. EPILOGUE: CHALLENGES OF CIVIC MINIMALISM, MULTICULTURALISM, AND COSMOPOLITANISM
    (pp. 292-316)

    In this Epilogue, I pursue three issues that have become more prominent since I first wroteDemocratic Education.¹ The first issue is whether the civic education that is publicly mandated must be minimal so that parental choice can be maximal. The second issue concerns the way in which publicly subsidized schools should respond to the increasingly multicultural character of societies. The third issue is whether democratic education should try to cultivate cosmopolitan or patriotic sentiments among students.

    Each of these issues have become more prominent since I first wroteDemocratic Education. I take the opportunity of this epilogue to approach...

  16. WORKS CITED
    (pp. 317-338)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 339-356)