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Document Type

Article in Response to Controversy

Abstract

One of the cornerstones of a democratic education is a basic notion of respect for others who hold different points of view from ourselves. Yet, within an increasingly divergent public discourse about values, rights and equality, democratic education needs to concern itself with practices that not only encourage respect, but that can negotiate through the very troubled relations that often afflict classrooms and schools. Models of how to promote respect often centre on creating a conflict-free atmosphere through appeals to deliberation, dialogue, conversation, consensus or a combination of these. Indeed, conflict is often perceived as not simply being counter-productive to dialogue and conversation, but as being indicative of communicative breakdown itself. In this way, conflict becomes the symptom of social ills through which recourse to some form of dialogue supposedly acts as the remedy. The idea of conflict has become so antithetical to democratic education that little has been written on the inevitability and importance of some kinds of conflict for legitimizing the possibility of democracy itself.

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