What did you learn in school today? Free speech, values inculcation, and the democratic-educational paradox

Martin H Redish*, Kevin Finnerty

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    14 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    The intersection of democracy and education gives rise to a troubling paradox: On the one hand, a viable democratic system requires an educated electorate, so that its citizens may make informed decisions as they participate in the process of self-government. On the other hand, an educational system is an inherently authoritarian institution in which agents of the state are provided a unique opportunity to shape the values of impressionable students. Government, therefore, can effectively mold the minds of its citizens before they enter the adult world-a strategy commonly employed by governments in totalitarian societies. The educational system thus gives rise to an indirect but nevertheless serious threat to the freedom of thought that is so essential to the successful operation of any democracy. After exploring both the tensions and intersections of democratic and educational theory, the authors propose their own "anti-indoctrination" model of First Amendment doctrine, designed to allow courts to curb the most egregious governmental erosions of free thought while simultaneously leaving school systems with substantial discretion to control curricular and educational decision making.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)62-118
    Number of pages57
    JournalCornell Law Review
    Volume88
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Nov 1 2002

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Law

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