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Barber, Benjamin. An Aristocracy of Everyone: The Politics of Education and the Future of America. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1992 (307 pp.). Barber tackles educational issues such as multiculturalism, political correctness, and teaching the canon, which we’ve all probably read about enough. But the real contribution of this book is Barber’s assertion that education must emphasize democracy and community-building. He argues that education offers the only path toward reinvigorating our country and our communities. Some of his argument is built on the ideas one finds in Bellah and others – but his solutions are perhaps more egalitarian. Barber also includes quite a lot of history in his approach to education and citizenship, which is, in itself, worthy of discussion in any educational setting. Since his early study Strong Capitalism, Barber has demonstrated himself to be one of democracy’s strongest but most demanding advocates; and his recommendations are very much grounded in local programs. Schools are one of every community’s most democratic institutions, but are they genuinely playing that role? Communities trying to encourage greater levels of volunteerism and civic engagement should look to educational institutions for support, and Barber’s book offers plenty of hope for community – if schools assume their proper role of educating for citizenship, and not simply training people to fill jobs.


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