Democratic Education


Program Description:

“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.” (Amy Gutmann, Democratic Education) Philosophers from Plato to John Dewey have recognized that education is political theory in practice. For better or worse the state and education are joined. Our founders championed education at public expense because they believed that through education the artificial, inherited aristocracy would be replaced with a society based on ability and merit. They also believed that education was essential for democratic citizenship, that educated citizens would be able to transcend private and partial interests in favor of the good of all. Hiley believes we need to renew our thinking about the important relationship between democratic citizenship and education because we strayed far from the public purposes of education, and because the quality of our democratic culture and citizenship are at risk. Who has legitimate authority to say what democratic education is? In a democracy, control of the content of education must itself be democratic. How might educational institutions, themselves, model democratic processes? What roles should educational institutions serve in a democracy? And finally, how do we educate students for the demands of democratic citizenship, especially given democracy’s uncertainty and constitutive incompleteness?