return to Lectures

Religion, Citizenship and the Crisis in Public Education

by Robert N. Bellah

This presentation was given in response to a paper by Emory University Theology and Human Development Professor James Fowler in 1985 at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Sheryl Wiggins transcribed this lecture from an audiotape. Sam Porter edited the transcript and wrote the introduction.  In this talk, which is as relevant in 2001 as in 1985 when it was given, Bellah interprets the crisis in public education in the context of how the United States has changed, especially since World War II, from a democratic to an imperial republic. He stresses the notion of education for character and citizenship in contrast to the prevailing notion of education for private advancement. Recognizing religion as dividing as well as uniting, Bellah also emphasizes the crucial role of religion in American history. Leaving religion out empties American history of the heart of its deepest meaning. "To leave it out is to empty the story of . that which makes us citizens," he says. Telling the story of the United States as it is, including its religious dimension, neither piously nor cynically, will help to pull students away from an exclusive concern with private advancement and may, he adds, "save our democratic republic from the clutches of imperial power." 

Because, as Jim Fowler so rightly points out, paideia is central to the life of a people, and especially to the life of a free people, reflection about paideia, that is, education in the deepest and fullest sense of the word, involves reflection about the kind of society we are, a reflection both wide and deep-and in some ways that is more than a little frightening.

I will be responding to Jim's paper, "Pluralism, Particularity and Paideia," which, as he says, is p to the q and which reminds me that a friend of mine is writing a book on ancient Greece and Israel that he plans to call Polis, Piety, Power, and Paranoia, p to the fourth power. Jim's paper, explicitly and implicitly, informs what I will be saying throughout these remarks.

But there are some other things that I have been reading of late which obtrude themselves by way of preliminary comment and keep me from beginning where I would by instinct begin, namely, with the place of public education in the American founding, although stay with me, I will get to that.

A little book that has had a large impact on me recently is George Grant's English Speaking Justice [1974], published by Notre Dame University Press in the Revision Series edited by Alasdair McIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas. George Grant is a distinguished Canadian political philosopher who is deeply conservative and deeply religious and so has some unexpectedly rough things to say about us Americans. He points out that for all our freedom and decency, which he admires and would protect, we are an empire and have been growing steadily more imperial throughout the 20th century, and especially since World War II. And the principle of empire is not freedom or decency but power. I don't think Grant means to say that our power is necessarily evil but rather that power and the maintenance of power when they become ends in themselves-as always happens in an empire-can indeed become evil. And certainly, it is well to remember that power was not the principle of that small agrarian republic established on the remote peripheries of the civilized world more than 200 years ago. So, we live in the American republic but it is an imperial republic.

What is education like in an imperial republic whose principle is, in part at least, power? Alas, one does not have to go far for the answer. One does not have to go to the primary and secondary schools. One only has to look at our universities, or perhaps I should say I only have to look at my university, the University of California at Berkeley, Clark Kerr's original multiversity. And I can indeed testify that there is plenty of multi- and not very much uni- in that institution. Instrumental rationality, knowledge for the sake of power, with its attendant presuppositions of positivism, relativism, reductionism and determinism-that is the ethos of the research university. And the better the university the more total is the control of that ethos.

So, if we want to understand the crisis in our public schools a look at the modern research university might indeed be in order. What else could we expect if the very citadel of the intellectual life is so problematic? Wilfred Cantwell Smith, another Canadian, has pointed out that the ethos of instrumental rationality undermines the traditional understanding of the university altogether. Indeed, it turns it into something else so that Clark Kerr needs a new word. "If," Wilfred writes,

truth is not transcendentally good, if values are merely whatever is valued rather than what is in fact valuable, if the amoral impersonalism of objective science is our knowledge, if the rational is the instrumental, if being human has no intrinsic, or absolute, or higher, or even shared purpose, only individual purposes, then there is no reason why the university should continue to have loyalty and consensus within, respect without, and freedom from tight state control. Efficiency management for externally imposed objectives would be its rational role.

What is true of the university in an imperial republic would follow naturally for education generally. Indeed, I think if one inspects the literature about the crisis in public education, many writing on that subject are concerned precisely with the fact that there is a lack of efficiency management for external objectives. The context of crisis and concern is international competition: if we don't have enough technicians, if our math is too weak, we won't continue to maintain our power in the world. I think the group meeting this week has some other problems that we feel are at the heart of this crisis. But we should not kid ourselves. Much of the concern with public education is precisely in the context of knowledge for power.

My final footnote to recent reading before I really get underway is a bit more personal and yet so relevant to my own thinking that I think I should tell you about it. Earlier this spring, I began to read the Old Testament straight through beginning with Genesis for the first time in a very long time. And last night I just finished Second Kings-the end of that great historic arc of the story of ancient Israel-and it is a sobering story. In many, many ways, it is a sobering story. But one of the things it is sobering about is empire. There is, of course, Egypt and Assyria and Babylon. But what happened to Israel? Samuel warned the Israelites about kingship. He depicted a situation of power in which the people would be used as tools in the hands of the monarchy with a vividness that must have recalled the Egyptian captivity. But the people would not listen. They wanted a king. So, Israel became Egypt. Israel became Babylon. And to David, and Solomon, and Jeroboam, and Manasseh, and the long, sad litany of kings of Israel and Judah, there came in the end the reversal that would lead to a new captivity.

Michael Walzer, in his recent slender commentary, Exodus and Revolution [1985], reminds us of a simple correlative of the Exodus story that is true for human beings most of the time. "Wherever you are," says Michael Walzer, "it is probably Egypt." In the 17th and 18th centuries, America was Israel, or thought it was, and viewed crossing the Atlantic as an Exodus crossing of the Red Sea, or as escaping from the Babylon of Europe. John Winthrop is the Nehemiah Americanus, in Cotton Matther's phrase. But today, what are we? Are we not Egypt locked in a titanic power struggle with Assyria? What of the many small nations in between? And what about modern Israel, in less than 40 years from exodus to empire?

Those are sobering thoughts and we must not forget them, especially we Americans must not forget them. We must not forget, as George Grant insists we must not forget, that we live in an empire. Yet, that is not the whole story. If we are an imperial republic then there is still an inner conflict. There is still a struggle worth the waging. And so again, in recent weeks, one is surprised to discover in the very heart of the great universities a deep concern about investment in South Africa and a movement to divest the university of those investments-on the whole responsibly, over a period of years, with conditions-but nonetheless a moral act that one has almost forgotten could come from faculties, not just from students. A flicker of conscience in the desert, you may say, but I think not a negligible one. So let us try to think the republican side of our institutions to see how we might revive them today.

Education has always been a central concern of free societies. For the flourishing and even survival of a free society depends on the quality of its citizens-and citizens

are formed through education. Here, education does not mean only what occurs in schools, for education also takes place in the family, in church, in the process of political participation itself. Alas, also in the living room in front of the television screen all too often. There are many voices clamoring for the paideia of Americans today besides the schools. But in America, the school has from early in the history of our republic played a particularly important part in that education for civic participation.

Of the founders of the republic, Jefferson had the keenest interest in education and saw it as critically important for a free society. More I think than any of the others, he worked steadily over many years for a comprehensive system of public, tax-supported education, including grammar schools, which would be open to all. Among the purposes of primary education Jefferson suggested, and he made a list, we have his own words, besides what he spoke of as the knowledge and skills to pursue the student's own interests, he added these further purposes:

· To understand his duties to his neighbors and his country and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either.

· To know his rights.

· To exercise with order and justice those he retains.

· To choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates.

· And to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor and with judgment.

Those are the tasks of citizens which education should prepare us for.

And to this end, the student, in the primary years, was to be taught reading, writing, arithmetic, mensuration, geography, and history. Note that Jefferson saw education as helping to form citizens capable of discharging their duties to neighbors and country, knowing and discharging their rights, and choosing and reviewing their delegates to government bodies. In the latter regard, Jefferson shared Madison's view that only virtuous and wise citizens would choose virtuous and wise rulers. Without a modicum of decency in the populace at large, we could not expect a free society to survive. As John Adams put it, our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly unsuited to any other.

Jefferson, Madison, Adams, all of them assumed-whatever their own private beliefs, and that is a long story-the presence of religion in the citizen-body, even in the school. Jefferson, of course, saw the presence of religion in the school in a generalized, nonsectarian form closely linked to moral obligation in a way, as Jim Fowler's paper points out, quite parallel to the work of Horace Mann in New England. There are problems with that, but, as usual, the notion of the wall of separation never kept Jefferson from imagining that religion could be dispensed with in our public life.

In many colonies education was for the wealthy, although of course only for whites and only for males. In the early republic, there was an effort to extend it to all white males and that of course was the limit of Jefferson's own concern.

But the case for the education of women was also being made in the early decades of the 19th century. Long after they were a part of the grammar schools, there was still a struggle to establish women's academies, women's colleges. And, of course, the movement for higher education for women was closely related to the movement for women's suffrage, for the consciousness of women's rights. All those things go together. If we consider developments in the field of black education, we would see parallels. In short, what begins in limited form tends to spread in American history and those left out demand to be let in and education is always a key point in that entry.

But in this development, which of course would take a great deal of time to describe in detail, there was an ambiguity from the beginning, inherent even in Jefferson's ideas about popular education. Education was to provide the knowledge and skills for personal advancement and education was to provide the knowledge and skills for citizenship. What should go together-what was assumed in those days would necessarily go together-can of course come apart. In America, the danger has been that education for private advancement would crowd out education for citizenship, or distort the idea of citizenship into only one more tool of private advantage. Again, this danger is particularly great at present when the stress on education is overwhelmingly its contribution to the economy in the context of a highly competitive and dangerous world and the emphasis is on the dissemination of technical skills. This view sees our population more as producers than as citizens and links private advantage with imperial power without regard for citizenship and free institutions.

The danger of this trend is that it can lead to a trade off between private advancement and public authoritarianism. This can occur even when the forms of democratic rule are maintained, as Tocqueville saw 150 years ago when he described what he called a democratic despotism in which the citizens would periodically, as he put it, quit their state of dependence just long enough to choose their masters and then fall back into it. The forms of election, to Tocqueville, did not mean the substance of free institutions. Max Weber, much more ominously because much closer to us, writing in the early 20th century, described also a situation in which elections remain important, and called that system leader-democracy, or in German, Führer-democracy, to which he gave the only seemingly paradoxical formula of "as much freedom as possible through as much domination as possible." Private freedom in exchange for public domination. It is the late 20th century scenario for democratic despotism. In this pattern of Führer-democracy, the citizens choose a leader because of his personal charisma and not because of any conviction about the value of the aims he pursues. Of course the leader must be successful in the immediate payoff terms of economic prosperity and political power but if he is successful, the citizens-although I think we have to ask whether the populace at this point deserves the term citizens-but anyway, if he is successful, the citizens ask no questions. Such leaders are not chosen, as Jefferson would have it, with discretion, and their conduct is not noticed with diligence, candor and judgment. Indeed, we have the prescription for leadership in an imperial republic.

But if this is the trend-and who can look at our political scene today and not see it-how can the schools recover their task as educators not only for private advancement and imperial power but also for responsible citizenship? This is an enormous subject. It would require us to meditate on the ethos of public education and the practices that prevail in the public schools today with much more knowledge than I can bring to bear. So in the face of these difficult problems I have only some very modest and simple suggestions that really focus on the key element in any educational system, namely, the teacher.

I think Jim Fowler's discussion of faith as a basis, perhaps the basis, for education is compelling. And it deserves to be worked out in all its pedagogical implications. I would indeed love to convince my instrumental rationalist colleagues of the primacy of faith and I do believe that even for them faith-a kind of faith-is primary. But that is a very hard job, which I certainly am not going to try today. Rather I want to speak about education for character and citizenship in a much more conventional context through the teaching that goes on in schools and through the teaching in two of the areas that Jefferson singled out as absolutely essential: reading and history. Reading is a profound question, however simple it may seem, because it isn't just a question of sounding out the syllables: it's a question of what is read. My emphasis on reading and history rests on the presupposition that moral and spiritual education is best carried out, certainly best initially carried out, through the presentation of narratives and exemplars. It is here that those things enter into the curriculum of primary and secondary education.

But simultaneously, as I point to these areas of teaching, I must also point to the teacher. If we are thinking about education for character or citizenship, for spiritual sensitivity, we must presume teachers for whom those things are real. How could they teach what they do not know, experience and live themselves? The old quis custodiet ipsos custodes? [Who shall guard the guardians themselves?] The teachers are the guardians of the tradition. Who will help us if they have lost it?

I want to quote from Helen Vendler's wonderful Modern Language Association "Presidential Address" of 1980 [PMLA 96 (1981), pp. 344-50], which I did in the last chapter of Habits of the Heart [1996 {1985}]. But on this occasion, I would like to do so somewhat more copiously because she so clearly makes the point I want to make. She is talking to teachers, even if they are primarily freshman English teachers. What that means for earlier education I think will be clear in a moment. She takes as her text-and she in a sense preaches from this text-some lines of William Wordsworth that come at the end of The Prelude where Wordsworth writes:

What we have loved, Others will love, and we will teach them how. But, again, if we as teachers haven't loved the right things how can we ever teach them to others?

Vendler speaks of teaching literature as, in the first instance, teaching reading. Literature is something written. Literature, and the teaching of it and the teaching of reading, involves, she says, "problems raised by human submission to, and interrogation of, a text." For all the television and the computers and all the rest of it I don't think the human species is soon going to forget the importance of the text. And when we face what Vendler calls the "problems raised by human submission to, and interrogation of, a text," we are already in the middle of moral education. What does it mean to listen to a text, to try to hear what it is saying? That is not simply a cognitive issue. There is a moral relationship involved. How, in turn, do we ask that text questions? How do we hear the questions it asks us? How do we engage in a conversation with a text? Almost all of the problems of our moral life are already there in the simplest act of teaching to read something worth reading.

Vendler then goes on to describe the problem of teaching. She is thinking, as I said, primarily of freshman English, people who come to college from the present state of our primary and secondary education. "Our students come to us," she says,

from secondary school having read no works of literature in foreign languages and scarcely any works of literature in their own language. The very years, between twelve and eighteen, when they might be reading rapidly, uncritically, rangingly, happily, thoughtlessly, are somehow dissipated without cumulative force. Those who end their education with secondary school have been cheated altogether of their literary inheritance from the Bible to Robert Lowell. It is no wonder that they do not love what we love; we as a culture have not taught them to. With a reformed curriculum beginning in preschool, all children would know about the Prodigal Son and the Minotaur; they would know the stories presumed by our literature, as children reading Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare or Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales once knew them. We can surely tell them the tales before they can read Shakespeare or Ovid; there are literary forms appropriate to every age, even the very youngest.

And here is a passage that links the teaching of literature to precisely the heart of a moral education. "Nothing is more lonely," Helen Vendler says,

than to go through life uncompanioned by a sense that others have also gone through it, and have left a record of their experience. Every adult needs to be able to think of Job, or Orpheus, or Circe, or Ruth, or Lear, or Jesus, or the Golden Calf, or the Holy Grail, or Antigone in order to refer private experience to some identifying frame or solacing reflection.

"I do not mean," she goes on to say,

by emphasizing the great tales of our inherited culture, to minimize the local and the ethnic. Literary imagination is incurably local. But it is against the indispensable background of the general literary culture that native authors assert their local imaginations. Our schools cannot afford to neglect either resource..

"It is not within our power," she says,

to reform the primary and secondary schools, even if we have a sense of how that reform might begin. We do have it within our power, I believe, to reform ourselves, to make it our own first task to give, especially to our beginning students, that rich web of associations lodged in the tales of majority and minority culture alike, by which they could begin to understand themselves as individuals and as social beings. We must give them some examples of literature, suited to their level of reading, in which these tales have an indisputably literary embodiment. All freshmen English courses, to my mind, should devote at least half their time to the reading of myth, legend and parable. We owe it to ourselves to teach what we love on our first, decisive encounter with our students and to insist that the freedom to write is based on a freedom of reading. Otherwise we misrepresent ourselves, and we deprive our students. Too often, they go away, disheartened about our implicit or explicit criticism of their speech and writing in English or in a foreign language; and we go away disheartened by our conviction that we have not in that first year engaged their hearts or their minds; and both parties never see each other again. And the public, instead of remembering how often in later life they have thought of the parable of the talents, or the loss of Eurydice, or the sacrifice of Isaac, or the patience of Penelope, or the fox and the grapes or the minister's black veil, remember the humiliations of freshmen English or long-lost drills in language laboratory. We owe it to ourselves to show our students, when they first meet us, what we are; we owe their dormant appetites, thwarted for so long in their previous schooling, that deep sustenance that will make them realize that they too, having been taught, love what we love.

That reminds me of a story that Bill Bennett tells of asking particularly talented high school seniors how many of them know who Jonathan and David are, and then how many know who Starsky and Hutch are, and the appalling difference in the percentage. [It is a commentary on the transience of popular culture that Starsky and Hutch, so popular in 1985, would scarcely be recognized today.]

Now Helen Vendler's paragraphs are instructive in many ways, not least because they are instructive about religion so unconsciously. Vendler is not concerned about teaching religion-she never mentions the word religion-and yet, biblical references recur more than any other in her essay. What she seems to be saying is: it is not possible to transmit the narrative culture of the West without the Bible. Perhaps Horace Mann was not entirely wrong in thinking that the Bible is best taught in school simply as narrative with a minimal of catechetical or theological explication. But the message is the story and if the teacher loves the story the message gets through.

Literature connects imperceptibly with history. For many narratives, including biblical narratives, are located in time and place, are historical. But it is precisely in the teaching of history, the history of free institutions generally and of the American republic in particular, that we show the incipient citizens the tradition of citizenship to which they belong. And to do that well, of course, we must love that tradition.

Walter Lippmann, in The Public Philosophy [1955], makes the link that connects Vendler's concerns with the concerns of citizenship. In speaking about tradition as essential to the public philosophy, Lippmann says,

But traditions are more than the culture of the arts and sciences. They are the public world to which our private worlds are joined. This continuum of public and private memories transcends all persons in their immediate and natural lives and it ties them all together. In it there is performed the mystery by which individuals are adopted and initiated into membership in the community. The body, which carries this mystery, is the history of the community and its central theme is the great deeds and high purposes of the great predecessors. From them, the new generations descend and prove themselves by becoming participants in the unfinished story.

That reminds me of an account I heard recently from a professor of American Studies who was visiting a classroom, an elementary classroom, in Denver. There was a young Vietnamese child who had only been in this country for four or five years who proudly pointed out to the visitor that the picture on the wall was George Washington, the father of our country. That story already belonged to this child. It is part of becoming a citizen to see ourselves in a tradition of citizenship and to understand one's predecessors and how they exercised their rights, established a constitution, and steadily extended those rights to include more and more of those who had been initially left out. It is a dramatic and dynamic story. It is only boring if it is deprived of actors, motives and causes, as was devastatingly pointed out by Frances Fitzgerald a few years ago in her book on high school history texts, America Revised [1979], where no human beings ever did anything. Things just happened because of generalized causes.

There are those who support a kind of pious history in which our nation has never been anything but noble and generous and our leaders and people have never done anything wrong. In reaction to this, we have had for quite a while, reaching a crescendo in the 1960s, but by no means gone, the school of the unmaskers and the debunkers who argue that our noble leaders were always racists and oppressors, that our history is a long catalogue of prejudice, exploitation and disaster. As one student said to me in Berkeley at the height of the demonstrations in the late 60s: this is the worst society that has ever existed. That is a testimony to the failure to teach history I am afraid.

History in neither of these versions leads to good citizenship. For in the first version, the pious-history version, if everything had always been so wonderful then there is no reason for citizens to enter the public sphere at all; and in the second version, since things are so bad and evil has so consistently triumphed, there is also no point in citizen action. It will surely fail. Both views promote both cynicism and privatism. This is a case where honest history is also the best history for educating citizens. There have been real conflicts in our history in which Americans have not always acted well but neither have they always acted badly. Jefferson, Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr.-all had real flaws. All made mistakes. Yet, they were real heroes who believed in and fought for noble purposes and with whom we can rightly identify.

Nor, rightly understood, is there a necessary split between majority history and minority history. Viewed in terms of the struggle for democratic political participation the issues are the same. I think it is possible to get students of whatever race or sex to identify with blacks and with whites, with men and with women in the course of American history. Not that we have done enough of that, though we have made a beginning. But it is part of one story.

And, of course, one of the things that divides us as well as unites us is religion. To leave religion out of the story is to empty it of the heart of its deepest meaning. Religion is an indelible, indeed a foundational, part of the history of this republic. And if we teach history honestly, we will teach religion. How can we teach colonial history without talking about the Puritan errand into the wilderness, without having the students read John Winthrop's "Model of Christian Charity"? How can we teach the Declaration of Independence without considering what meaning the words "the laws of Nature and Nature's God" might have; without talking about "the Creator" that the Declaration says has endowed us with "certain unalienable rights"? How can we teach Lincoln without explaining the deep piety of the Gettysburg Address or the Second Inaugural Address? And must we not also tell the story of the prejudice against Irish Catholic immigrants, about the violence that was done against them? And what of the Mormons and their persecution and their long trek to the West? Must we not tell the story of black religion and of the great Biblical archetypes of exodus and liberation that inspired black leaders such as Martin Luther King? This is part of the story. To leave it out is to empty the story of an utterly central dimension of its truth, of its being, of that which makes us citizens. It is not to say that we are all the same. It is not to say that there aren't different denominations and traditions. Indeed, there are those who are not Christians, who are not Jews, and we might remember them too. But it is all part of the story if we tell it right. It is the narrative-more than any preaching about the narrative; what happened and who the people were who made it happen-that has the deepest impact on character, on citizenship, by giving the models and the examples which show the young people what it might mean to be a good person and a good citizen.

We shouldn't kid ourselves that those stories are always going to be uplifting. Nobody who has ever tried to teach the Bible honestly will say that every story is uplifting. There are tragic stories. There are deeply troubling stories. This is no simple-minded optimistic, pious version of what should happen. But if the stories are allowed to speak, with all the sharpness that is in them, the education will follow.

And, of course, we come back again to the problem of who is doing the teaching. The teacher must understand and believe in what he or she is teaching. For only if the teacher knows what it is to be a citizen can that be communicated to students. Here, I think, teachers themselves are intimidated by the dominant ethos of instrumental rationality into thinking that they must maintain some kind of scientific neutrality in areas where scientific neutrality destroys the meaning of what is being taught. For the student will know at once if the teacher has no convictions and is simply transmitting something by rote. The teacher must have convictions to teach any of the things we have been talking about, and must have the courage of those convictions, which does not mean that the teacher must not also be open to the challenge from the student, open to discuss any of those convictions. But that does not mean the absence of convictions.

And since religion is an indelible aspect of the convictions of at least many of us, that too has to be part of the honest story. This is true in any humanistic field. It is true in the university as well as in the primary and secondary schools. It is a delicate matter, I admit, but the notion of being some kind of teaching machine will not do the job. Because of the dominance of the natural science ethos, we tend to think that those convictions, and the courage of those convictions, are somehow subjective, purely private, purely personal. For that reason, too, we are not sure we have a right to bring such things into the teaching process-particularly where the students may not be very receptive to the convictions of the teacher, particularly if they have what we call "other values."

But tradition and history-religious and republican-are just as objective as science; and they have to be treated as a part of the real world, for indeed they are. They are a part of who we are, of what made us what we are. They are not something we made up in the interiority of our private consciousness. Flannery O'Connor, a great Georgia author, has put the point well in speaking about some of the things that we are talking about when she says, "No one asks the student if algebra pleases him or if he finds it satisfactory that some French verbs are irregular." In history, in literature, in the story of our lives together as citizens, we are there not primarily, at least not in the first instance, to consult the views of our students but to form them. Of course we need to start where the students are. Of course, we need to hear what they think and let them express what they think. But we are not in a situation of total anarchy where there is no clarity as to what needs to be taught; and it is an abdication of our responsibility to behave as though that is the case.

Again, Flannery O'Connor, in her wry and humorous remarks about her own education or lack thereof: "I know no history whatsoever. In high school we studied at hindsight-foremost beginning with the daily paper and tracing problems back from there but we never got very far." Again, that method may at times not be a bad strategy. But to capitulate to our students and their inveterate presentism is to deprive them of perspective, of a deeper view than the present, of other realities that might open up the present to them. When a student writes in a paper on Lincoln that he went to the movies and got shot, we know we have failed very badly. Of course, part of what we have to teach is the painful fact that we are citizens of an imperial republic. That is delicate too but it is part of the story and we need to tell the story.

In short, there are many things schools can do to prepare students for citizenship, and many dimensions-history, reading, literature, religion-that are indelibly part of that story, which is basic for their formation as citizens. And we need, above all, not to be ashamed of the story we have to tell. It is a great story. It is a story full of conflict. It is not always a beautiful story. It is a story of success. It is also a story of stunning failure and moral squalor. It is a story of suffering endured and suffering inflicted. But if we teach it as it is-neither piously nor cynically-we will help pull our students away from exclusive concern for private advancement and we may just help to save our democratic republic from the clutches of imperial power.

return to Lectures