Joel Westheimer opens his book by asserting his overall thesis, that schools teach civics and are concerned with civics, and not just in Civics class. The kind of society we want, what it means to be a good society, who’s in and who’s out, what it means to participate and how to participate in civic life… these are dimensions always mentioned by teachers, administrators, and parents when they imagine the purpose and role of school. Though so much of the talk about schools is about competitiveness, achievement, and results, even people who name those objectives would not say that they ought to come at the expense of thinking how we’re shaping young people to lead and create the society we become in the future. The democratic impulse of education is deeply embedded in our political consciousness and our beliefs about schools. That’s a good thing, because whether we think about it or not, schools shape how kids ultimately engage in society in huge ways.
Do you want to read this book with me? I’d love some company. My plan is to post every Tuesday about a chapter a week, going through the ten chapters and inviting discussion about them on Facebook and maybe also on comments on these pages every week. If you are interested in thinking about how our schools impart a sense of civic responsibility and learning to our children, and what that means for our society, it would be great to have you read along with me.
Roughly, the schedule for reading the book with me, when I’ll post a summary and some questions to talk about, as well as links to relevant other readings:
Tue., June 30: Chapter 1, Changing the Narrative of Schools
Tue., July 7: Chapter 2, No Child Left Thinking.
Tue., July 14: Chapter 3, No Teacher Left Teaching
Tue., July 21: Chapter 4, How Did This Happen?
Tue., July 28: Chapter 5, What Kind of Citizen?
Tue., Aug. 4: Chapter 6, Personally Responsible Citizens
Tue., Aug. 11: Chapter 7, Participatory and Social Justice Oriented Citizens
Tue., Aug. 18: Chapter 8, Thinking, Engaged Citizens
Tue., Aug. 25: Chapter 9, Seven Myths about Education
Tue., Aug. 1: Chapter 10, What Kind of School?
Join me, and let me know if you’re interested!