Website for Bruce Hauptli's Midcoast Senior College for Spring 2023

Could Amy Gutmann's Philosophy of Education Help Repair Our Democracy?

Class meets in person 9:30-11:00 AM on Thursdays February 16-April 6

University of Maine Augusta Brunswick Center, Orion Hall, 12 Sewall Street, Brunswick (On Brunswick Landing in Cook's Corner--Room 114)

Copyright © 2023 Bruce W. Hauptli

Please Note: this webpage will be revised throughout the course. 

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Course Description: Amy Gutmann is currently our Ambassador to Germany.  From 2004 to 2022 she was President of the University of Pennsylvania, from 2001 to 2004 she was Provost of Princeton, and from 1976 to 2004 she was a Professor of Political Science at Princeton.  Wikipedia says: "Through her writings, Gutmann has consistently sought to bridge theory and policy to advance the core values of a civil democratic society: liberty, opportunity and mutual respect.  In a recent ranking of US political scientists in PhD-granting departments," Wiki says, "she is ranked second-highest in citations among all political theorists, eighth-highest among all women political scientists, and has been cited more than any other political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania....Her first major contribution to political philosophy was her book Democratic Education (1987; revised 1999).  The book addresses the central questions in the political theory of education: How should a democratic society make decisions about education?  What should children be taught?  How should citizens be educated?  It was reviewed in Ethics as "the finest contribution to the literature on democratic education of the last seventy years" and fostered a revival of interest in the relationship between democracy and education.  The book also takes on some contemporary scholarly debates: What is the appropriate response of democratic education to the challenge of multiculturalism?  Should schools try to cultivate patriotic or cosmopolitan sentiments among students?"  Gutmann and her frequent coauthor, Dennis Thompson (he is the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of Political Philosophy at Harvard) have developed a conception of democracy they call Deliberative Democracy and we will start by looking at it and then turn to Gutmann's philosophy of education which stresses the importance of publicly supported education that "develops the capacity to deliberate among all children as future free and equal citizens" and  "schooling whose aim is to teach the skills and virtues of democratic deliberation within a social context where educational authority is shared among parents, citizens, and professional educators."  We will contrast her educational philosophy with several others as we assess its potential to repair our democracy, and we will study its implications at all educational levels for both the control and the distribution of such an education.  

Reading: Amy Gutmann, Democratic Education, second edition (1999) ISBN 978-0691009162 

Class Forum  the link is to a new version of the forum which, I hope works much better.  [click on this link to enter the Forum for the class where postings, comments, and discussions are welcome]

This course webpage and syllabus will have more links and information added before and during the course.  There will be web supplements for each meeting--which are intended to facilitate understanding of the material.  They may be read before, and/or after, the class. 

 February 16, First Week: Introduction

Readings for First Class: Please read my A Quick Introduction to "Deliberative Democracy" and Democratic Education; as well as Guttmann's "Preface to the Revised Edition" and "Introduction: Back to Basics" (pp. xi-18) prior to class. 

We spent most of the first class discussing democracy and education and didn't get to the prepared supplements and the text.  I mentioned some of the things covered in my A Quick Introduction to "Deliberative Democracy" and Democratic Education and I recommend reading it, but will not cover it in class.  Questions about it are, of course, appropriate! 

First Class Supplement

March 2, Second Week: States & Education, and The Purposes of Primary Education:

Readings for Second Class: Gutmann’s Preface, and Introduction.  You might also find my contrast between “indoctrination “and “education” interesting in “Education, Indoctrination, and Academic Freedom.”  

Second Class' Supplement

Perhaps, review the First Class Supplement and my Quick Introduction (both above). 

March 9, Third Week: Democratic Participation, and The Purposes of Primary Education:

Readings for Third Class: Chapters One: States and Education, and Two: The Purposes of Primary Education

Third Class' Supplement

March 16, Fourth Week: Dimensions of Democratic Participation, and The Limits of Democratic Authority

Readings for Fourth Class:  Chapters Three: Dimensions of Democratic Participation, and Four: The Limits of Democratic Authority,  

Fourth Class' Supplement

March 23, Fifth Week: Distributing Primary Education, and The Purposes & Distribution of Higher Education

Readings for Fifth Class: Chapters Five: Distributing Primary Schooling, Six: The Purposes of Higher Education, and Seven: Distributing Higher Education,   

Fifth Class' Supplement 

March 30, Sixth Week: Extramural Education; Educating Adults; The Primacy of Political Education; and the Challenges of Civic Minimalism, Multiculturalism, and Cosmopolitanism

Readings for Sixth Class: Chapters Eight: Extramural Education, Nine: Educating Adults, Conclusion: The Primacy of Political Education, and Epilogue: Challenges of Civic Minimalism, Multiculturalism, and Cosmopolitanism

Sixth Class Supplement

April 6, Seventh Week: Challenges and Criticisms

Seventh Class Supplement


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Last revised on 04/04/23

I greatly appreciate comments and corrections--typos and infelicities are all too common and the curse of "auto-correct" regularly plagues me!