The Goodness of America—
An Education for Democracy
What do American children need today if they are to become citizens of the world tomorrow? A child born today could well live into the next century: It is almost beyond our imaginations to grasp what changes will occur in a child's lifetime and what challenges he or she will face. We are living during an epoch of exponential change; the world of our parents does little to predict the world of our children and grandchildren. Yet, we continue to tinker with our nineteenth-century school system. We look backward when we should look forward. When we think of the future we envision students with deep pride, open, inquiring minds, and moral courage. We envision students who resist rigid ideologues and fantastic escapist beliefs; an open and just society cannot exist without open minds and open hearts. Deep feelings, however, without critical analysis, imagination, knowledge, and determination can lead to solipsism, personal entropy, and social decay.
To develop deep feelings that are guided by ethical maturity and judgment requires curiosity, empathy, attachment, and accomplishment. Curiosity suggests inquiry; empathy requires tolerance ; attachment needs safety; and accomplishment measures growth. Inquiry, tolerance, safety, and growth are the basis of an educated democracy. 1