Democratic Education and the Controversy over Controversial Issues

Authored by: Johannes Drerup

Handbook of Philosophy of Education

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032000053
eBook ISBN: 9781003172246
Adobe ISBN:


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Debating controversial issues in schools is considered to be one of the central practical means of realizing the aims of democratic education. Which issues should count as controversial or not, however, is contested both in increasingly polarized political debates and in classrooms across the world. This chapter provides an analysis of the controversy over controversial issues in the philosophy of education, with a specific focus on the debate about different criteria for distinguishing issues that should be discussed controversially or non-controversially in the classroom. Based on a critique of two of the most important criteria that have been raised in the debate – the criterion of political authenticity and the epistemic criterion – an alternative, pluralistic framework for teaching controversial issues is developed and defended against a common objection.

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