oa Journal of Education - In defence of minimalism: beyond a robust approach to citizenship education

Volume 37, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-479X



The maximalists would have us be ideal citizens if we conform � and learn to conform � to a number of precepts. We should be active citizens, we should value our community (and in particular our national identity) and we should take on the virtues that commit us to upholding the common good. For the maximalists, democracy�s moral root lies in our civic ties to our community and to ensuring that the ideals of justice and equality are met. In many respects, the maximal project is admirable � but as an educational project it is flawed. In this paper, I will argue that by filling in the details on how we ught to behave and what values we ought to have as citizens, maximal educators have slipped too far from education�s role in developing autonomous individuals who are able to freely express themselves. We need an account of citizenship education that takes seriously the development of individuality, while at the same time contributing to the democratic project that seeks the common good. This is a fine balance. I will argue that it is in an education towards a minimalist citizenship that offers a way of achieving both these educational objectives.

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