Democratic Initiative

Submitted By:
Jonathan Gold, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI

The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education by Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy
Routledge, November 13, 2014

As John Dewey noted, democracy "has to be enacted anew in every generation, in every year and day, in the living relations of person to person in all social forms and institutions."Schools have long understood the essential role they play in maintaining our democracy both by preparing students to participate and in educating them in the norms and values of democracy. Diane Hess and Paula McAvoy's The Political Classroom is an invaluable guide for teachers seeking to understand their role in promoting democratic values and preparing students to participate in democracy. Although the contemporary political atmosphere in the United States – polarized, rancorous, and increasingly unpredictable – creates many challenges for teachers, it also offers many opportunities and highlights the profound need for effective political education. With a mix of fascinating case studies and insightful analysis, Hess and McAvoy offer readers a combination of practical strategies and philosophical frameworks for when, how, and why to teach about politics and for democracy. In doing so, they provide brilliant insight into the best practices and structures that can support students' initiation into democracy. In the end, much of the advice Hess and McAvoy have to offer comes down to "professional judgment," but yours will be immeasurably enhanced by reading this excellent text.

Teaching Practice
Current Events & Civic Engagement