This essay addresses the question: given the flattening out of the cultural hierarchy that was the vestige of colonialism and nation-building, is there anything that might be uniquely common about the common school in this postmodern age? By 'uniquely common' I do not mean those subjects that all schools might teach, such as reading or arithmetic. Nor do I mean just subjects that might serve a larger public purpose, but that might be taught in either publicly supported or privately supported schools. Rather I mean subjects that speak to the shaping of a child's identity as a member of a common community in the way that the common school was intended to create when its commission was to develop and maintain a single national or colonial identity and loyalty. I argue that there is a kind of connectivity that common schools should foster even as the nation-building and colonial past is rejected, and that this connectivity is what is common about the common schools. I argue that any concept of culture that merely flattens out the normative dimension of educating is deficient as an educational theory, and propose a conception of culture that is educationally productive.
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