Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

While we’re at it...

As long as we’re reflecting on civic education, I’d be interested in the answers our gentle readers have to offer to Peter Levine’s post, both in general and considering the questions he poses at the end. If you read it, you’ll see why I’m particularly interested.

I’ll share my own thoughts later, for reasons that should also be obvious.

Discussions - 2 Comments

It should be a rich discussion. I am especially interested in the narrative that gets us from the 19th to the 20th centuries. What accounts for the change? Surely the list is long.

Is it appropriate to distinguish between the aims of undergraduate and graduate education? One of the suggestions in overview or narrative is that graduate education, initially speaking with a German accent, overwhelmed undergraduate education, which in turn (no doubt for lots of reasons) proved vulnerable.

Two issues occur to me prior to adequate analysis:

One is the decision to require service-learning or to make service-learning available and to encourage it. I have spoken for the latter at my college, arguing that it is better for 80% of our students to volunteer for community service than it is to have 100% of them required to engage in community service. My argument is based on the psychology of externally-provided reasons to perform, as opposed to the self-justification involved when people choose autonomously to perform a task. In the long run, autonomously chosen values outlast enforced ones.

Second, Levine’s ending questions remind me of the distinction between basic (pure) research and applied research. In my experience, liberals tolerate the bias inherent in applied academic research more than do conservatives, at least when that research has "social" attached to it. At the same time, the (liberal) defense of liberal education includes a defense of basic research, research for the sake of gaining knowledge.

So, acknowedging that I am thinking as I write, I perceive an area where perhaps civic-minded conservatives and liberals can agree on a common direction for higher education.

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