Education for Citizenship - a Liberal Dilemma
||2008-10-01 -- 2010-09-30
||Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare
"Schools have an important task with respect to conveying and instilling among the pupils the foundational values upon which our society rests… Education and upbringing are in a deeper sense a question of passing on a cultural heritage—values, traditions, language, knowledge—from one generation to the next." Curriculum for the Swedish public compulsory school (Lpo 94: 3, 5)
"An important part of being free is not having to associate with, or reside among, others whose ways, beliefs, or very persons, one cannot abide. Freedom is, to a great extent, freedom of exit. An appreciation of this dimension of freedom runs through the liberal political tradition which has generally, if imperfectly, recognized the importance of being able to separate ourselves from our fellows, even if there are many goods we can only produce—and sometimes enjoy—with the cooperation of others." Exit, Freedom, and Gender (Kukathas 2005: 1)
The aim of the research project is to explore the normative dilemma expressed by the two quotations above. On the one hand, the state has a responsibility for its young members and their development into fully grown and responsible citizens. Nowhere is this responsibility as obvious and prevalent as in public schooling. Not only are schools supposed to give children a formal education in mathematics, orthography, and other subjects, but they shall also prepare children for adult life by shaping them into good, responsible and democratic citizens (cf. Dewey 2004, Gutman 1999). On the other hand, the modern Western democratic state is embedded in a liberal cluster of ideas which poses certain norms and limitations on the state. Central among these is the norm of neutrality, according to which the state shall have nothing to do with the personal values, life styles and moral beliefs of its citizenry (cf. Dworkin 1978, Ackerman 1980, Rawls 1993, Nagel 1987 and Raz 1986). From this liberal perspective, then, the state should have no influence over the moral upbringing of the citizenry.
At the intersection between these two conflicting values, education for citizenship and state neutrality, lies the dilemma which the research project aims to explore.