EPILOGUE
CHALLENGES OF CIVIC MINIMALISM,
MULTICULTURALISM, AND
COSMOPOLITANISM

In this Epilogue, I pursue three issues that have become more prominent since I first wrote Democratic Education.1 The first issue is whether the civic education that is publicly mandated must be minimal so that parental choice can be maximal. The second issue concerns the way in which publicly subsidized schools should respond to the increasingly multicultural character of societies. The third issue is whether democratic education should try to cultivate cosmopolitan or patriotic sentiments among students.

Each of these issues have become more prominent since I first wrote Democratic Education. I take the opportunity of this epilogue to approach each issue freshly, as an ongoing challenge to democratic education: the challenge of civic minimalism, multiculturalism, and cosmopolitanism versus patriotism. By responding to each challenge, I try to develop and deepen the conception of democracy and democratic education that informs this book.


CIVIC MINIMALISM: AN ALTERNATIVE TO
DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION?

Schooling that is publicly mandated and subsidized by democratic citizens may legitimately pursue civic purposes, which include the teaching of literacy, numeracy, veracity, toleration, and mutual respect. This much is widely acknowledged in most liberal democracies. But no conception of the public purposes of schooling is be

____________________
1
Although I have written about these issues over the past decade in separate essays, what I say here is largely new. The previous essays include “Civic Education and Social Diversity,” Ethics 105 (April 1995), pp. 557–579; “Challenges of Multiculturalism in Education,” in Robert Fullinwider, ed., Public Education in a Multicultural Society: Policy, Theory, Critique (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 156–179; “The Challenge of Multiculturalism in Political Ethics,” Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 22, no. 3 (Summer 1993), pp. 171–206; and “Undemocratic Education,” in Nancy L. Rosenblum (ed.), Liberalism and the Moral Life (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 71–88.

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