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 article

13 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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