Williams, Jeremy Kelton (2011-08). Interpreting Civic Education in American Educational Thought from Progressivism Through Multiculturalism. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • This dissertation is a historical examination of citizenship education in the United States, beginning in the late nineteenth century with the Progressive era, and extending into the 1970s with multiculturalism. It focuses on the thought of education scholars, historians, and. political theorists throughout the twentieth century. It examines their efforts to define citizenship in the United States, and how that idea should be presented to students in the classroom. In doing so, this dissertation examines the manner in which the events of the twentieth century dramatically influenced the collective understanding of what being a "good citizen" means in the United States; and it considers the consequences of these changes in relationship to how children have been taught to engage in social and political life. It begins with a discussion of civic learning under the educational philosophies of social pedagogy and social efficiency in the Progressive era. It continues with an examination of the consequences of World War I and the Great Depression on the thought of educational scholars concerning citizenship education. This is followed by an analysis of the transition from Progressive education to Essentialist education in the middle of the century, and the consequences this had on civic education in the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement. This dissertation concludes by considering how the events of the twentieth century have influenced citizenship education in the era of standardization and globalization. Ultimately, this study finds that our understanding of citizenship, as it is expressed in the school curriculum, is profoundly influenced by our collective understanding of civic ideals and the American identity. These ideals and this identity are an evolving construct that is, in turn, influenced by the ideas and events of the period. Therefore, what is often perceived as a decline in citizenship education in schools, is actually a shift in the values of citizenship.
  • This dissertation is a historical examination of citizenship education in the United States, beginning in the late nineteenth century with the Progressive era, and extending into the 1970s with multiculturalism. It focuses on the thought of education scholars, historians, and. political theorists throughout the twentieth century. It examines their efforts to define citizenship in the United States, and how that idea should be presented to students in the classroom. In doing so, this dissertation examines the manner in which the events of the twentieth century dramatically influenced the collective understanding of what being a "good citizen" means in the United States; and it considers the consequences of these changes in relationship to how children have been taught to engage in social and political life.



    It begins with a discussion of civic learning under the educational philosophies of social pedagogy and social efficiency in the Progressive era. It continues with an examination of the consequences of World War I and the Great Depression on the thought of educational scholars concerning citizenship education. This is followed by an analysis of the transition from Progressive education to Essentialist education in the middle of the century, and the consequences this had on civic education in the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement. This dissertation concludes by considering how the events of the twentieth century have influenced citizenship education in the era of standardization and globalization.



    Ultimately, this study finds that our understanding of citizenship, as it is expressed in the school curriculum, is profoundly influenced by our collective understanding of civic ideals and the American identity. These ideals and this identity are an evolving construct that is, in turn, influenced by the ideas and events of the period. Therefore, what is often perceived as a decline in citizenship education in schools, is actually a shift in the values of citizenship.

publication date

  • August 2011