The Myth of the Common School

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9780870236020: The Myth of the Common School

In this thoughtful, well-wrought study, Charles L. Glenn examines the hisorical development of the idea that the State should sponsor popular education in order to mold common loyalties and values among its citizens in the interest of national unity. This idea had led inevitably to conflict with parents and groups who do not accept the values and beliefs inculcated by the state and its educators. Over the years, the issues around which such conflict has arisen have varied, but the underlying positions remain the same. On the one hand there are those who assert the absolute right of parents to control the education of their children. On the other there are those who assert the absolute right of the State to control the education of children and to do so in a way that minimizes the differences among them. Glenn examines this tension promarily as it evolved in nineteenth-century Massachusetts, with reference to parallel developments elsewhere in the United States and in France and the Netherlands. He ends by reminding us that this continuing conflict over popular education raises troubling questions in a demacracy. How, for example, can the pluralism we claim to value, the liberty we cherish, be reconciled with a State pedagogy designed to serve State purposes? Can governement assure that each child is educated in the essentials required by the social, political, and economic order without seeking to impose uniformity? He concludes by offering workable and tested solutions to this perennial dilemma.

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About the Author:

Charles Leslie Glenn, Jr. is professor in the Department of Administration, Training and Policy Studies, and Fellow of the University Professors Program at Boston University.

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