Citizenship and Education in Liberal-Democratic Societies: Teaching for Cosmopolitan Values and Collective Identities

Citizenship and Education in Liberal-Democratic Societies: Teaching for Cosmopolitan Values and Collective Identities

Citizenship and Education in Liberal-Democratic Societies: Teaching for Cosmopolitan Values and Collective Identities

Citizenship and Education in Liberal-Democratic Societies: Teaching for Cosmopolitan Values and Collective Identities

Synopsis

The essays in the volume address educational issues that arise when national, sub-national and supra-national identities compete. How can we determine the limits to parental educational rights when liberalism's concern to protect and promote children's autonomy conflicts with the desire tomaintain communal integrity? Given the advances made by the forces of globalization, can the liberal-democratic state morally justify its traditional purpose of forging a cohesive national identity? Or has increasing globalization rendered this educational aim obsolete and morally corrupt? Shouldliberal education instead seek to foster a sense of global citizenship, even if doing so would suppress patriotic identification?In addressing these and many other questions, the volume examines the theoretical and practical issues at stake between nationalists, multiculturalists and cosmopolitans in the field of education. The fifteen essays, plus an introductory essay by the editors, provide a genuine, productive dialoguebetween political and legal philosophers and educational theorists.

Excerpt

The idea of cosmopolitan education was put on the agenda recently by Martha Nussbaum in an article written for the Boston Review and published subsequently as a book (together with responses by various other scholars interested in moral education). Taking her lead from the Stoic tradition that,

each of us dwells … in two communities—the local community of our birth and in the community of human argument and aspiration … 'in which we look neither to this corner nor to that, but measure the boundaries of our nation by the sun.'

Nussbaum argued that we should make “world citizenship, rather than democratic or national citizenship, the focus for civic education.” Civic education should not be conceived only in terms of love of one's own country and its traditions, or concern only for fellow members of one's society. The moral concern we should be teaching our children is equal concern for all humans in the world; and the identity we should encourage young people to recognize is an iden-tity that involves “recognizing humanity in the stranger and the other” and responding humanely to the human in every cultural form.

Against this generous vision, Nussbaum's respondents scrambled to defend the importance of the parochial and the particular claims of kin and culture. They said they were afraid that cosmopolitan concern would “rob us of our concreteness and our immediacy.”

What cosmopolitanism obscures, even denies, are the givens of life: parents, ancestors, family, race, religion, heritage, history, culture, tradition, community—and nationality. These are not “accidental” attributes of the individual. They are essential attributes … To pledge one's fundamental allegiance to cosmopolitanism is to try to transcend not only nationality but

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