Discontent and Its Civilization

Submitted By:
Meghan Tally, Windward School, Los Angeles, CA

The Crisis of Western Civ and A Call for Democratic Education  (2 articles) by David Brooks; Stephanie Schroeder
The New York Times; tolerance.org, April 21, 2017

For those unnerved (at best) by David Brooks’ recent op-ed in The New York Times about the nation’s (and education’s) "loss of faith in democratic ideals," resources like tolerance.org offer substantive and practical antidotes. Brooks opines that today’s students "are taught that Western civilization is a history of oppression," naming the "rise of illiberals," "the age of strong men," and "the collapse of the center" as the inevitable consequences of undoing "the Western civilization narrative" best told (in his view) by Will and Ariel Durant ("The Story of Civilization," 1935-1975). In the tradition of John Dewey, educator and scholar Stephanie Schroeder advocates for engaging students in democracy (as opposed to teaching them about democracy). With a host of resources in hyperlinks, Schroeder promotes democratic classrooms ("need[ed] now more than ever") with six key qualities: participation, deliberation, nonrepression/nondiscrimination, morality, empathy, and criticism. Educators across the country and around the world will find useful Schroeder’s synthesis of how to "prepare students for the rigorous duties of democratic life"— a collective work in which thousands of educators are engaged and perhaps the set of "values" and "common goals" Brooks would say have vanished altogether.

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