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ERIC Number: EJ1045641
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Should Teachers Help Students Develop Partisan Identities?
Hess, Diana E.; McAvoy, Paula
Social Education, v78 n6 p293-297 Nov-Dec 2014
Five years ago, Diana Hess was teaching a graduate seminar called "Democratic Education." The purpose of the seminar was to critically analyze two seemingly simple, but actually very complex, questions: What is democracy? What is democratic education? Both are contested concepts, and the seminar was designed to help students understand and grapple with their multiple meanings in the context of political and educational practices in the U.S. and in other nations. In the highly polarized political climate in which young people are currently being raised, political science research is finding that the most engaged Americans are those who have strong partisan identities. Given that many social studies teachers want to encourage young people to be politically engaged, does it follow that one aim of democratic education should be to help students know where their own views stand with respect to those of contemporary political parties "and," if aligned, feel an affiliation toward a political party? In short, should teachers help students develop their own partisan identities? To address this question, the authors begin with an explanation of the political science research investigating the relationships among partisanship, polarization, and political engagement. Then, in order to help teachers consider this issue, Hess and McAvoy present some reasons to be concerned about teaching toward a partisan identity, followed by some reasons why this aim may deserve support.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A