What Kind of Citizen? Educating Our Children for the Common Good Book Launch with Joel Westheimer

2015 16 Sep
7:00pm - 9:00pm
What Kind of Citizen?  Educating Our Children for the Common Good Book Launch with Joel Westheimer

How can schools teach the skills required for a strong democracy to flourish? What Kind of Citizen? asks readers to imagine the kind of society they would like to live in - and then shows the ways in which schools can be used to make that vision a reality.

Westheimer draws on groundbreaking research on school programs and policies to sharply critique the current direction of school reform. He points to the many varied and powerful ways to teach children and young adults to engage critically, to think about social issues, and to participate in authentic debate that acknowledges that intelligent adults can have different opinions. But today's teachers are being forced to abandon these practices in favor of test-preparation in only a very narrow set of academic subjects. How did this happen? What can we do to set schools back on the right track? How can we realign school goals with what research shows parents, children, and teachers actually care about? How can we save our schools from today's myopic interpretation of what constitutes an education? Westheimer answers these questions and makes a powerful call for schools to become more engaging, more democratic, and more educative.

"I write this book because, knowing that schools are always instruments of citizenship education, it seems vitally important that educators, policymakers, and parents - anyone who cares about education and society - ask not whether schools should teach citizenship but rather what kind of citizen our educational programs imagine." - Joel Westheimer 

About the Author

Joel Westheimer is professor and university research chair in democracy and education at the University of Ottawa and education columnist for CBC Radio. He is the editor of Pledging Allegiance: The Politics of Patriotism in America's Schools.

7 PM
Wednesday, September 16 2015
Octopus Books Centretown
251 Bank St. 2nd floor

Wheelchair accessible

From the book:

"Schools in democratic societies must teach students how to ask challenging questions - the kinds of questions that are, at times, uncomfortable, the kinds that question tradition. Although most of us would agree that traditions are important, without any questioning there can be no progress. Students need practice in entertaining multiple perspectives and viewpoints on important issues that affect our lives."  - Joel Westheimer (p.12)

"Any student being denied knowledge about historical events and social movements misses out on important opportunities to link his or her education to the quintessentially democratic struggles for a better society for all."  - Joel Westheimer (p.15)

"If education's democratic goals are to be taken seriously, then we need the kinds of classroom practices that teach students to recognize ambiguity and conflict in "factual" content, to see human conditions and aspirations as complex and contested, and to embrace debate and deliberation as a cornerstone of democratic societies."  - Joel Westheimer (p.23)

Praise for the book

"Joel Westheimer has written a necessary and brilliant book. Not only does he dismantle the pedagogy of testing, instrumental rationality, and repression at work in the public schools, he reclaims and extends the important goal of defining schools as democratic public spheres, students as engaged citizens, and social responsibility as central to the project of education."  --Henry Giroux, Global Television Network Chair in Communication Studies, McMaster Univeristy

"In this refreshingly accessible book, Westheimer explains the importance of helping students to think critically and question tradition." --Alfie Kohn, author of Feel-Bad Education and The Myth of the Spoiled Child

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