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The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education

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WINNER 2016 Grawemeyer Award in Education Helping students develop their ability to deliberate political questions is an essential component of democratic education, but introducing political issues into the classroom is pedagogically challenging and raises ethical dilemmas for teachers. Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy argue that teachers will make better professional judgme WINNER 2016 Grawemeyer Award in Education Helping students develop their ability to deliberate political questions is an essential component of democratic education, but introducing political issues into the classroom is pedagogically challenging and raises ethical dilemmas for teachers. Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy argue that teachers will make better professional judgments about these issues if they aim toward creating political classrooms, which engage students in deliberations about questions that ask, How should we live together? Based on the findings from a large, mixed-method study about discussions of political issues within high school classrooms, The Political Classroom presents in-depth and engaging cases of teacher practice. Paying particular attention to how political polarization and social inequality affect classroom dynamics, Hess and McAvoy promote a coherent plan for providing students with a nonpartisan political education and for improving the quality of classroom deliberations.


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WINNER 2016 Grawemeyer Award in Education Helping students develop their ability to deliberate political questions is an essential component of democratic education, but introducing political issues into the classroom is pedagogically challenging and raises ethical dilemmas for teachers. Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy argue that teachers will make better professional judgme WINNER 2016 Grawemeyer Award in Education Helping students develop their ability to deliberate political questions is an essential component of democratic education, but introducing political issues into the classroom is pedagogically challenging and raises ethical dilemmas for teachers. Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy argue that teachers will make better professional judgments about these issues if they aim toward creating political classrooms, which engage students in deliberations about questions that ask, How should we live together? Based on the findings from a large, mixed-method study about discussions of political issues within high school classrooms, The Political Classroom presents in-depth and engaging cases of teacher practice. Paying particular attention to how political polarization and social inequality affect classroom dynamics, Hess and McAvoy promote a coherent plan for providing students with a nonpartisan political education and for improving the quality of classroom deliberations.

30 review for The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    May

    I sit on the board of a pre-K through 12 school, and this book was recommended to me by a faculty member. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which uses philosophical thinking and empirical science to frame a discussion on how best to answer the question: "How should we live together?" In an era of increasing political polarization, is there a place and an opportunity for schools to teach and model respect, tolerance, and political equity in the classroom, and what should that teaching look like? The I sit on the board of a pre-K through 12 school, and this book was recommended to me by a faculty member. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which uses philosophical thinking and empirical science to frame a discussion on how best to answer the question: "How should we live together?" In an era of increasing political polarization, is there a place and an opportunity for schools to teach and model respect, tolerance, and political equity in the classroom, and what should that teaching look like? The authors examine several types of schools, communities, teachers, and teaching styles to arrive at an ethical framework with which to analyze the question. They looked at schools across the political spectrum and how teachers dealt with students from differing socioeconomic classes, ethnicity, and political viewpoints to model political engagement in a respectful way and how that might differ from teachers who deal with students from more homogeneous socioeconomic classes, ethnicity and political viewpoints. The result is a thought provoking book on what ways teachers should model ideal behavior, the challenges in doing so, and the obstacles that remain. This book should be the beginning--not the end--of the discussion of how we should all live together and demonstrates how schools and teachers can assist students to start on the path towards political tolerance, respect, and engagement. I highly recommend this book to teachers, parents, and administrators alike!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara Riley Piotrowski

    I assigned this book in my History-Social Sciences Education Methods course. Ultimately, this book grapples with how teachers should address the question, “how should we live together.” Chapters 1 & 4 generated awesome discussions about the goals of a political classroom (which doesn’t mean teachers are overly political, but rather, are preparing their students to participate in our democracy). Chapters 5, 6, & 7 are applicable case studies. And chapters 8 & 9 address the often asked question, “ I assigned this book in my History-Social Sciences Education Methods course. Ultimately, this book grapples with how teachers should address the question, “how should we live together.” Chapters 1 & 4 generated awesome discussions about the goals of a political classroom (which doesn’t mean teachers are overly political, but rather, are preparing their students to participate in our democracy). Chapters 5, 6, & 7 are applicable case studies. And chapters 8 & 9 address the often asked question, “should we share our political views.” A must-read for all current and teachers in training.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mikayla Beckman

    I had to read a part of this book for my ed pol class for our lecture on the policies of civic education. While I found the case study of the government course at Adam's high school intriguing, I don't necessarily agree with the school's stance that AP government doesn't allow for formal debate in policy. I myself took AP government my junior year of high school, and it was such a fulfilling class. We did a debate similar to the one described in this case study, except we made a mock congress an I had to read a part of this book for my ed pol class for our lecture on the policies of civic education. While I found the case study of the government course at Adam's high school intriguing, I don't necessarily agree with the school's stance that AP government doesn't allow for formal debate in policy. I myself took AP government my junior year of high school, and it was such a fulfilling class. We did a debate similar to the one described in this case study, except we made a mock congress and had our own committees and majority/minority leaders. It was such an enriching experience. While the ethics of the AP board are questionable at best, I don't think offering AP gov would be a bad thing. While the debate may not have been explicitly written in the AP gov curriculum, it is a known fact that no AP teacher follows the AP curriculum word for word. While I did find the concept that all seniors are required to take this class (Therefore eliminating tracking) interesting, I also found it flawed. Requiring every senior to take one class does not in any way eliminate the issue of tracking. Furthermore, this case study mentioned that those who are ELL students are placed in a "sheltered" class. How is this not tracking? Doesn't this go completely against the values of diversity that the school is so heavily preaching? While the concept is intriguing, the execution and reasoning behind it is incredibly flawed and unresearched (in my opinion). I f-ing love reading about educational policy lol.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is a refreshing and valuable addition to current educational research—a must-read for 6-12 social studies and history teachers. The authors tackle important questions that all competent social studies teachers consider regularly: How do you select issues to open up for student discussion? Are some issues too "hot" or too divisive to be fruitfully discussed by students? How should a teacher balance the need to maintain a safe space for all students with the educational goal of fostering auth This is a refreshing and valuable addition to current educational research—a must-read for 6-12 social studies and history teachers. The authors tackle important questions that all competent social studies teachers consider regularly: How do you select issues to open up for student discussion? Are some issues too "hot" or too divisive to be fruitfully discussed by students? How should a teacher balance the need to maintain a safe space for all students with the educational goal of fostering authentic political conversations about relevant controversies? Should a teacher ever share their own beliefs, or is that tantamount to proselytizing? To answer these questions, the authors conducted years of empirical research at a wide range of schools around the country. Along the way they describe three case studies in detail, each of which is a fascinating look at how different teachers and departments grapple with these issues. The case studies alone are worth the price of the book, but the real gems here are in the final chapters where the authors analyze the data and attempt to answer the questions posed above. These chapters stand as a perfect example of how to use relevant theory and research to guide classroom practice. Make no mistake: this is not a book aimed at a popular audience. It is written primarily for education schools rather than regular classroom teachers. With that said, however, I found plenty here of immediate, practical value. (I primarily teach 8th grade social studies.) The research cited in the book focuses on grades 9-12, but the issues raised are certainly relevant in middle school and possibly even in the younger grades.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sally Sugarman

    Given our present partisan political situation and the need for an educated citizenry in a democracy, this is a book which all educators should read because of the issues that it raises and the research that it reports. From 2005 to 2009 the authors conducted a study of teaching controversial political issues in a variety of high school classrooms in several Midwestern states, observing classrooms and interviewing teachers and students at the time of the study and several years later. These clas Given our present partisan political situation and the need for an educated citizenry in a democracy, this is a book which all educators should read because of the issues that it raises and the research that it reports. From 2005 to 2009 the authors conducted a study of teaching controversial political issues in a variety of high school classrooms in several Midwestern states, observing classrooms and interviewing teachers and students at the time of the study and several years later. These classes were taught in a variety of ways such as discussion, lecture with discussion and lecture. The authors provide some vivid case studies showing different goals and methods. They found that students in like minded schools were more likely to participate in politics, but also more likely to be partisan. Besides reporting on the study, the authors raise many questions about the ethical problems confronting the teachers, not only in terms of what issues they choose to discuss, but the degree to which they support minority views in classrooms and reveal their own political leanings. Learning to respect those who have different perspectives is an important component of the students’ experience as is using evidence appropriately. The schools varied greatly in their composition, ranging from right to left leaning. The reader is left with a great many questions to ponder.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  8. 4 out of 5

    Frank Perdomo

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  10. 5 out of 5

    John Roberts

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hunt

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karissa

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bernardette

  18. 5 out of 5

    ACRL

    Read by ACRL Member of the Week Andrea Baer. Learn more about Andrea on the ACRL Insider Blog. Read by ACRL Member of the Week Andrea Baer. Learn more about Andrea on the ACRL Insider Blog.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Thorleifur Orn Gunnarsson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katie Loftin

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ross Platt

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen Richey

  24. 4 out of 5

    Toni Siedel-Dutton

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Schmidt

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Brewer

  27. 5 out of 5

    HistoryWithTiffany

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zoé Prevatt

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Wilson

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