Book Review

Education for Everyone: An Agenda for Education in a Democracy

By John I. Goodlad

Reviewed by Gregory A. Firn
Superintendent,
Milford Public Schools,
Milford, Conn.

Where, when and to what extent are citizens provided “the necessary apprenticeship in the understanding and practice of democracy”? More importantly, why would the subject of democracy, its understanding and reflective behaviors and relationship to education and educational reform be worthy of our attention?

In Education for Everyone, John I. Goodlad, along with Corinne Mantle-Bromley and Stephen J. Goodlad, clearly articulate a response to these questions. They describe the principles and understanding that have emerged from decades of research and writings reflective of historical and contemporary thinking about democracy and education.

Challenging the oft-presented basic argument for schooling as that of literacy, the authors insist democracy demands a special kind of literacy, a more complex literacy, literacy with a moral dimension. Teaching literacy in and for democratic citizenship requires more.

To that end, the book explores the unique relationship between education and democracy. Emergent from this exploration is an invitation for all educators to consider the centrality of preparing young people for democratic citizenship as the “foremost mission of public schooling.”

The authors challenge the content of our current discourse by stating, “To be at once an educator and a pessimist … is the ultimate oxymoron.” Suffice it to say, this reading presents the context for making sense of the current gridlock. More important is the daunting challenge of returning the chief end of education to that of preparing for citizenship in a democracy.

(Education for Everyone: An Agenda for Education in a Democracy by John I. Goodlad, Corinne Mantle-Bromley and Stephen J. Goodlad, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif., 2004, 220 pp. with index, $29 hardcover)