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Abstract

This article determines which education enables the perpetuation of diverse ways of life and the liberal democracy that accommodates this diversity. Liberals like John Rawls, Stephen Macedo, and William Galston have disagreed about the scope of civic education. Based on an analysis of toleration—the primary means for maintaining a pluralist liberal democracy—I argue that schools should teach democratic participatory skills and a minimal exposure to diversity to enable citizens to participate in the democratic process of defining which cultural and religious practices the state should tolerate or prohibit through its laws. To make this argument, I contend, in contrast to several scholars, that toleration is practiced primarily between the democratic state and citizens rather than among citizens. Although many theorists do not show the educational implications of their theories, I conclude that schools must teach: (a) mutual respect among citizens, (b) citizens’ constitutional rights, (c) democratic participatory skills, (d) a basic understanding of other worldviews, and (e) critical media skills. Students should master these components through instruction on government, cultures and religions, and the media, but more important through discussions and democratic simulations both inside and outside the classroom.

Response to this Article

John Tillson, The Possibility of Horizontal Tolerance