Author (Your Name)

Andrew Carlson, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Tappan, Mark B.


"Democratic Civic Education: Preparing the Students of Today for the Society of the Future" investigates a way in which the traditional education system can be structured to address the need for, and benefit to be gained from, helping students to understand the commonality of human experience. It argues that by encouraging students to examine and challenge beliefs, ideals, and power structures, institutions of education can provide individuals with a better critical understanding of their own experiences in relationship to the community. Finally, this paper discusses the role education plays in identifying and developing the give-and-take relationship that exists between individuals and a democratic community. The paper is divided into two parts. Part One is theoretical in nature, while Part Two is practical in application. Part One is presented in the form of a discussion and critique of the themes, contributions, and arguments put forth by leading democratic educators John Dewey, Lawrence Kohlberg, Amy Gutmann, and Henry Giroux. Chapter Two, "John Dewey's Vision of Educating the Individual," deals with issues of individual development. Chapter Three. "Lawrence Kohlberg's Negotiation of Self and Society," looks at the tension that exists between an individual and her community. Chapter Four, "Amy-Gutmann's and Henry Giroux's Views of Freedom, Authority, and Citizenship," highlights the roles freedom, authority, and citizenship fill in a democracy. Chapter Five, "What Does This All Mean?: My Perspective," outlines the author's approach to democratic civic education. Part Two discusses the course "Individual Rights and Social Responsibilities." A half-year eleventh and twelfth grade civics course, it is designed to cover not only the traditional activities of learning about the Constitution, branches of government, citizenship, and legal rights and responsibilities, but also to introduce a way of learning about the mutual responsibilities that students and their communities hold. Material covered in the course includes the fundamentals of American democracy, the three branches of government, community service, and civil rights. The goal of "Individual Rights and Social Responsibilities" is to relate individual growth to public life, through developing strong interpersonal skills, academic knowledge, habits of critical inquiry, and curiosity about society, power, inequality, and change. This paper provides a general overview of the concepts of individualism, community, freedom, authority, and citizenship as they relate to the topics of democracy and education. Each element of "Democratic Civic Education: Preparing the Students of Today for the Society of the Future" constructs an approach to education that strives to teach children to be critical citizens who can think, challenge. take risks, and believe their actions will make a difference in the larger society.


Civics, Study and teaching, Civics, Study and teaching, United States