UNITY AND DIVERSITY IN
CREATIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE TENSIONS
IN THE EPILOGUE to Democratic Education (Gutmann, 1999), I outline a democratic approach to multicultural education and illustrate some of its practical implications for schooling in the United States. The approach is broadly applicable because it is informed by a democratic ideal of civic equality: individuals should be treated and treat one another as equal citizens, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, race, or religion.
More or less civic equality distinguishes more from less democratic societies. Democratic education—publicly supported education that is defensible according to a democratic ideal—should educate children so that they are capable of assuming the rights and correlative responsibilities of equal citizenship, which include respecting other people's equal rights. In short, democratic education should both express and develop the capacity of all children to become equal citizens.
Multicultural education in democracies can help further civic equality in two importantly different ways: first, by expressing the democratic value of tolerating cultural differences that are consistent with civic equality, and second, by recognizing the role that cultural differences have played in shaping society and the world in which children live. Not all education that goes by the name multicultural serves the ideal of civic