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Race, Community and Moral Education: Kohlberg and Spielberg as civic educators

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Literature on moral education has contributed surprisingly little to our understanding of issues of race and education. The creation of inter-racial communities in schools is a particularly vital antiracist educational goal, one for which public support in the United States has weakened since the 1970s. As contexts for antiracist moral education, such communities should involve racially plural groups of students learning about, and engaging in, common aims, some of which must be distinctly antiracist: an explicit concern to institute racially just norms within the community (reflecting, yet going beyond, Kohlberg's own communitarian justice focus in his Just Community schools) and to foster social justice in society generally; and an appreciation of distinct cultural and racial identities within a community. Popular culture has an important role to play in providing salient cultural imagery of inter-racial co-operation and antiracist activity. In this regard, several films of Stephen Spielberg, a film-maker who takes his responsibilities as moral educator seriously, are promising yet ultimately disappointing.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 1999

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