Educating for Democratic Societies: Impediments

Stephen Lafer, Hasan Aydin


The paper offers a robust definition of democracy that focuses upon the decision making processes of democratic societies that are dependent on the ability and willingness of citizens to enter into a democratic dialectic in which informed opinions contend with one another in the public forum so that the best possible decisions can be made in regard to public policy and action. Opinion, informed and justified in reason, is to be respected in such societies and cultivated through a proper system of education that teaches students how to determine the respectability of opinions offered and to formulate and articulate opinions worthy of respect. Impediments to the development of skills, knowledge, and dispositions essential the development of opinion worthy of respect and the critique of opinion for its respect-worthiness are considered, particularly those generated by forces of economy, religion, and notions of state and nation. The conclusion argues for schools that are respectful of the individual capacities of students, particularly their ability to formulate unique understandings of the phenomenon that come before them and to offer to society novel ideas, in the form of opinion, that deserve the consideration of others in the democratic decision making process.


democracy, schools, and impediments

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