Sample issues analysis for democratic education for all

Summary of concerns, conclusions, main arguments.

Main issue: Democratic education for all.

Position on the issue: Democratic education provides learners choice in their pursuit of knowledge to empower them to care for and work with others to benefit them as citizens and for the health of a democratic nation.
Reasons for the position
  1. Individual freedoms align with democratic ideals.
  2. Democratic values are learned with choice and democratic decision making.
  3. A social organization, community or nation, requires a common curriculum, to unite its citizens. Similar experiences unite people.
  4. Need an educated citizenry for democracy to flourish. Thomas Jefferson, Horace Mann, John Dewey
  5. Broad liberal education prepares a diverse population that is more resilient to change and meeting its demands for survival.
Values associated with reasons
  1. Democratic values - freedom of speech, religion, assemble, own property, free will
  2. Every one can learn. People learn from experience. Mastery oriented decision making to care for each other.
  3. Common values become internalized with shared ethical experiences. Education - is necessary to improve and maintain a good life.
  4. Education, good life, success, historical relationship of industrial revolution, renaissance, modern world, being associated with freedom to pursue knowledge and technological advancements or a sustainable world.
  5. Diversity, change, resilience, survival, freedom to explore and be different


What other positions were considered? What reasons were given for not supporting them? What value is associated with each?
Standardized curriculum to provide common experiences to unify democratic citizens to make better decisions.
  1. Goes against the logic of freedom to make personal decisions.
  2. There is no empirical evidence of the success of preparing learners for today's future with a standardized curriculum.
  3. Any historical evidence prepared learners for a past life. To say it will work now, relies on the extrapolation of ideas or to be accepted as faith.
  4. Offers no evidence of capacity that one size fits all. 
  5. In the context of schooling people are not similar enough to be treated identical.
  6. To argue learners are the same (yes), by degree, truly means they are different.
  1. Freedom, personal choice
  2. Evidence for fact based decision making.
  3. Ideals, history,
  4. Equality. All people need to be treated equally. Unequal opportunities breed ill will and contempt. Differentiation can lead to unequal treatment and oppression.
  5. Human similarities are more important than differences.
  6. Differences
Don't need everyone to be educated. 
  1. Choice to do nothing isn't a choice. It is the absence of education.
  2. Young do not make good decisions.
  3. Importance of education is lost on some young people.
  1. Freedom of choice
  2. Value everyone, need useful or productive citizens
  3. Good decisions, safety

Soundness of the arguments


Strength of evidence - Compares ideal to reality

Hidden premises

Inclusive not missing information - Need to be careful to include comprehensive review. Not to be fooled by rhetorical devices, and unrealistic application of an ideal or idea.

Main idea in light of other alternatives

Other ideas - People need to be told what to do. There is a common history or understanding of our culture.

Other values - Productivity, money, economy,

Other assumptions - There can be one culture, history, narrow social order

Other language - Rhetoric, emotional words, propaganda, pleas to make decisions without critical thinking and decision making

Origins may suggest other strengths or weaknesses - Diversity is a strength. Diverse species survive better than less diverse species. Resilience to adapt. Always doing things the same way will not create change, when it is necessary. Some traditions are valued for their usefulness and should be. Traditions that do not provide value will not survive.

What can be inferred from the author - Diversity is valuable. Democracy is messy and takes commitment and work to be inclusive of a diverse citizenry.

Summary of the quality of thought

Validity - Meaningful, logical, factual

Power - Theoretically seems to be

Practical - Yes. If choice and decision making is considered democratic ideals in school. Methods which include reasonable student choice and teach mastery oriented decision making is shown to help today’s at risk children to be successful and is congruent with current brain research.

Ethical - Democracy for all fits with human nature of fairness, and equality. It can fall apart if democracy is defined as governance of the many and the few be damned. Then the ethical ground is narrower.

Is it acceptable? most people accept democracy as the best government. Some, have credible concerns, about the timeliness of decisions being made in extreme times and the majority oppression of the minority.

Warrants and necessary changes? Democracy in schools needs to be defined to be inclusive for the well being of all learners and developmentally appropriate within reasonable expectations of schools and schooling.

Final judgment in relation to the main idea need to live a democracy to learn to function in a democracy and to live it means need choices, which may or may not be achieved in a structured standard common curriculum, which centers on career preparation. 



Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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