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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
April 2023
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Book description

In our world of unceasing turmoil, an educated citizenry is the first and strongest line of defence for democratic renewal. Educating for Democracy shows how students can prepare for the responsibilities of 'the most important office in a democracy' – that of a citizen. Education can provide students with the dispositions and skills needed to exercise their role judiciously and responsibly, as a patriot who cares about democracy and as a custodian who cares for democracy. These two aspects of caring call for curriculum-wide reform. The outcome of this reform is a patriot who serves as custodian of democratic culture, where commitment and competence, heart and mind, love and intellect, are brought together for the sake of democratic renewal. While nations, as both instruments and proximal objects of care, have an important role to play in this renewal, the ultimate aim is the care and cultivation of a democratic culture.


‘During a time when substantive visions of democracy are under threat in all too many countries, Educating for Democracy provides us with important reasons for defending and extending a democratic education that is worthy of its name.’

Michael W. Apple - University of Wisconsin, Madison and author of Can Education Change Society?

‘With a breadth of experience, spanning from the former Yugoslavia to a class held in an American prison, Feinberg illustrates the importance of educating for citizenship. This insightful and humane book details how young people can be prepared for their civic role, offering guidance that can help teachers and scholars in their effort to renew democracy.’

Sigal Ben-Porath - University of Pennsylvania

‘It is crucial that we educate children to be responsible democratic citizens who can engage in a respectful process of collective decision-making. Walter Feinberg's immensely important book provides a superb account, as well as a compelling justification, of a set of educational practices that might well be essential to preserving our democracy. This book is indispensable reading.'

Dan Brudney - University of Chicago

‘At the heart of this new book is the familiar claim that, when democracy is threatened, 'an educated citizenry is the first and perhaps only line of defense'. Drawing on a lifetime of philosophical scholarship, personal experience, and curricular and pedagogical engagement, Walter Feinberg provides a passionate, original, and deeply reflective account of democratic education’s cardinal role. Herein, one of our most eminent philosophers of education outlines a democratic path forward through the dizzying array of existential threats currently facing contemporary democratic societies. One of the book’s most valuable features is a series of chapters detailing how the school might – and surely must – reinvigorate its role as a vehicle of citizen formation ‘across the curriculum’. It should be essential reading for students, teachers, parents, policy makers, and all concerned citizens.’

Kevin McDonough - McGill University, Canada

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