Liverpool Branch Seminar
Can schools reasonably be tasked with tackling, or educating against, something we might sensibly call ‘extremism’? An affirmative answer will require a conception of extremism such that extremist views are (i) undesirable and (ii) educationally remediable. There are difficulties with both requirements. First, it seems plausible that at least some kinds of extremism are unobjectionable, perhaps even admirable: as Martin Luther King asks, ‘Was not Jesus an extremist for love? Was not Amos an extremist for justice?’. Second, insofar as extremist views have their roots in unjust social structures and experiences of oppression or marginalisation, they may be thought to lie beyond the reach of educational remediation. Our question, then, is whether extremism is appropriately construed as something educators can and should teach children to resist.