In this article, Melinda Fine describes the classroom dynamics surrounding the discussion of controversial issues in a middle school classroom. Through observation and interviews, she creates a detailed portrait of the interactions among teachers and students, revealing that while discussions of emotionally charged social and political issues are often heated and difficult, they can still be constructive. Fine maintains that students are more resilient and able to handle disagreement than is often believed. She concludes by arguing that education in a democracy requires that teachers and students learn to deal constructively with political and social differences.
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