Civic Learning for the 21st Century: Disentangling the “Thin” and “Thick” Elements of Civic Identity to Support Civic Education

Authored by: Danielle Allen , David Kidd

Handbook of Philosophy of Education

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032000053
eBook ISBN: 9781003172246
Adobe ISBN:


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Responding to growing alarm regarding the state of American democracy, stakeholders of all sorts have called for improving civic education. This chapter proposes that answering this call requires a clear account of how young people come to identify as civic participants and offers one rooted in sociocultural theories of learning and development. It argues that we can best support young people's civic development by helping them integrate the dispositions, knowledge, and skills central to the civic role with their other identities, such as race, gender, or religion. This approach centers civic education on students’ exploration of their identities and values while helping them bring them with them into civic life in ways that are effective, equitable, and self-protecting.

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