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The Politics of Character Education


by David E. Purpel — 1997

We would all be better served by recognizing that the current so-called character education movement essentially represents an ideological and political movement rather than a debate about curricular and instructional matters. My basic criticisms of this approach, which are elaborated in this chapter, can be briefly stated as deploring the naïveté or disingenuousness of the discourse and of the inadequacies of its political and social assumptions. I will try to show how this movement, far from being innovative and reforming, represents instead a longstanding tradition of using schools as agents of social stability., political stasis, and cultural preservation. I hope that this analysis will shed light on the more general issues of moral education and the moral nature of education.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 96, No. 2.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 98 Number 6, 1997, p. 140-153
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18783, Date Accessed: 6/26/2017 1:20:11 AM

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About the Author
  • David Purpel
    University of North Carolina at Greensboro
    E-mail Author
    DAVID E. PURPEL is a Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Curriculum Foundations, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
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