Civic Republicanism and Contestatory Deliberation: Framing Pupil Discourse within Citizenship Education

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Discourse between pupils represents a core element of citizenship education in England. However, as it is currently presented within the curriculum, discourse adopts the form of the rather broad terms of 'discussion' and 'debate'. These terms are diffuse, and in themselves offer little pedagogical guidance for teachers implementing the curriculum in schools. Moreover, there has been little academic reflection in England as to how theoretical ideas on civic dialogue may usefully inform approaches to pupil discourse. For this reason, how pupils experience discursive learning activities is likely to depend on how individual schools and teachers understand the terms 'discussion' and 'debate' and the way in which this understanding is translated into pupil learning activities. This article explores how recourse to deliberative democratic theory, and in particular to the principle of contestatory deliberative democracy found within recent republican writing, may be useful in helping educators to consider critically the capacities needed for effective civic discourse as a well as the outcomes of pupils' dialogical engagement.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-69
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Studies
Issue number1
Early online date11 Feb 2009
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2009