Educating Citizens Through and For Democracy and Our Public Schools

In this chapter I offer some insight into our current context and needs in order to highlight some of the habits that schools should be fostering to sustain key elements of democracy and improve existing democracy. At the same time, I recognize that the educational approaches and goals themselves must be open to change. While many educators believe citizenship education is important, there tends to be a lack of consensus regarding what should be taught. I aim to provide some guidance as a response to the recent changing conditions of citizenship, democracy, and education I described in the early chapters of this book.

I acknowledge that good citizens may require additional habits beyond those named in this chapter, yet I highlight these as some of the most essential to living life democratically, upholding our role responsibilities, working as a public, and supporting the development of publics through public schools. These are habits that can help us respond to and overcome some of the problems we faced today that I’ve described so far in this book. Aligned with the definition of responsibility I offered in chapter five, these habits are social and relational. They often entail a proclivity to act with others and are driven by concerns with the well-being of democracy and fellow citizens. Developing these habits can help our budding citizens fulfill their role responsibilities. Finally, some of the habits I detail here are aligned both with recent trends in society (such as shifting national identity) and with the youth (such as their desire for collaboration and compromise) that suggest the time may be right to rejuvenate democracy, citizenship, and our public schools.

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