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Citizenship under Fire

Citizenship under Fire: Democratic Education in Times of Conflict

Sigal R. Ben-Porath
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Citizenship under Fire
    Book Description:

    Citizenship under Fireexamines the relationship among civic education, the culture of war, and the quest for peace. Drawing on examples from Israel and the United States, Sigal Ben-Porath seeks to understand how ideas about citizenship change when a country is at war, and what educators can do to prevent some of the most harmful of these changes.

    Perhaps the most worrisome one, Ben-Porath contends, is a growing emphasis in schools and elsewhere on social conformity, on tendentious teaching of history, and on drawing stark distinctions between them and us. As she writes, "The varying characteristics of citizenship in times of war and peace add up to a distinction between belligerent citizenship, which is typical of democracies in wartime, and the liberal democratic citizenship that is characteristic of more peaceful democracies."

    Ben-Porath examines how various theories of education--principally peace education, feminist education, and multicultural education--speak to the distinctive challenges of wartime. She argues that none of these theories are satisfactory on their own theoretical terms or would translate easily into practice. In the final chapter, she lays out her own alternative theory--"expansive education"--which she believes holds out more promise of widening the circles of participation in schools, extending the scope of permissible debate, and diversifying the questions asked about the opinions voiced.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2718-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In the summer of 2002, Israeli high school students took their final exams for their high school diplomas. At age seventeen or eighteen, just before gaining their voting rights and beginning their mandatory military service, these students were confronted with the following question on their civic studies exam: “Explain why conscientious objection is subversive.”

    With a stroke of a pen, the exam writers had abandoned decades of democratic deliberation on the balance between conscience and compliance, between majority rule and minority dissent. The students were presented with the conclusion, veiling a demand to refrain from joining the ranks of soldiers...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Citizenship in Wartime
    (pp. 9-32)

    When a democracy enters a period of war or overt security threats, its citizens’ lives are affected in many ways. Their feelings about their country can be transformed; public and political distinctions between “us” and “them” shift; citizens’ expectations from the government can be revised in light of what they perceive as their most urgent interests. The public agenda often becomes preoccupied with security issues; the public sphere is rearranged around these newly defined focal points. Many issues, including immigration, criminal law, demography, free speech, and artistic expression, to name but a few, become part of the security discourse. Access...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Education as War by Other Means
    (pp. 33-56)

    This chapter explores the ways in which the public education system conforms to the opening quote. The social and administrative expectation to position security concerns as an educational priority manifests an important way in which belligerent citizenship is reflected in the public education system. Before exploring normatively desirable means for the education system to cope with war and belligerent citizenship, this chapter portrays some common responses of the public education system to the circumstances of conflict. The method employed here is not aimed at presenting temporal or spatial systematic descriptions, because this is meant to be an applied philosophical argument,...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Peace Education: Anger Management and Care for the Earth
    (pp. 57-75)

    War and peace are blurred in today’s world, and it is often hard to tell when a war is declared, what would be the effect of a peace treaty and, most crucially, how a nation is to prepare for either of them. The possibility of a cold war and a protracted war on terrorism make it hard to properly define and contextualize both military actions and attempts to achieve peace. It is hard to separate “peacekeeping forces” from military troops, hard to decide what qualifies as a preemptive measure or national self-defense. This is not merely a problem of Newspeak....

  8. CHAPTER 4 Feminist Contributions to Expansive Education
    (pp. 76-92)

    In a talk at a Jerusalem high school a few years ago, a lieutenant general in the Israeli army made a remark that made the next day’s headlines: “From time immemorial,” he said “men have been warriors, and women—prostitutes.” Apparently he was trying, albeit clumsily, to encourage the young men in the audience to volunteer to serve as combat soldiers by referring to the importance of men’s service as warriors and the benefits that come along with it, including easy access to sexual favors. His remarks, although prompting some condemning responses, pointed to a common perspective in countries where...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Multicultural Education: Acknowledgment and Forgiveness
    (pp. 93-112)

    The complex process of responding to conflict while preserving democratic inclinations can benefit from drawing on multicultural curricula and theoretical approaches. The mission of expansive education is best described as educationally responding to conflict while continually supporting the effort to create democratic citizens. Multicultural education is best described as the mission to educationally respond to social conflicts, tensions, and differences while creating democratic citizens. The contextual differences—the fact that multicultural education does not commonly respond to armed conflict but rather to social tensions, and the fact that the groups involved in the conflict are in one case typically separate...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Expansive Education
    (pp. 113-130)

    Democratic societies struggling to live through a protracted conflict while preserving their social formation and political structure face many challenges. The expansive education response to these challenges is based on balancing the demands of belligerent citizenship with democratic principles and a realistic vision of peace. In the realm of political ethics, this challenge coincides with the attempt to maintain civil liberties without compromising security. This undertaking offers the proper ethical background for the educational project advocated in this book, which is focused on the tendency of the public education system to reflect and replicate the social responses to war, termed...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 131-150)
  12. Index
    (pp. 151-159)