Saturday, January 12, 2008

Character Development and Democratic Citizenship

Margaret Stimmann Branson, Associate Director, Center for Civic Education

Title: Character Development and Democratic Citizenship

Authors: Margaret Stimmann Branson, Associate Director, Center for Civic Education

Full Document:  (also attached)

Publish: Presented at the World Congress on Civic Education, Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 17, 2007 

Abstract: Americans have never doubted that the development of character and democratic citizenship are closely linked. John Adams, one of the nation’s founding fathers, wrote in 1780, what is now the oldest functioning written constitution in the world. In that Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Adams advanced two powerful arguments for both character and civic education. Interestingly enough, subsequent scholarly writing and research has corroborated Adams’ basic contentions. Adams insisted that the state has an obligation to educate its citizens because:

1. “Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue diffused generally among the body of people is necessary for the preservation of rights and liberties.” In other words, if a people wants to be free and to enjoy the rights and liberties that characterize a democratic society, the people—all of them—must be educated. It’s not enough for a society to educate only the elite or only males, “wisdom, knowledge, and virtue” must be “diffused generally.”

2. Schools, private societies, and public institutions—all have an obligation “to inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings, sincerity, good humor, and all social affections, and generous sentiments among the people.”*

Documentacion asociada al contenido