Tolerance of intolerance: values and virtues at stake in education

Journal of Moral Education 37 (4):467-484 (2008)
Abstract
The article addresses the issue of the tolerance of intolerance in an educational context. It concerns a real case in a Swedish upper secondary school some years ago, when a student was suspended from school owing to his sympathies with Nazi ideas. One hundred and twenty student teachers' responses to this decision were analysed in respect of the idea of toleration as a crucial value and tolerance as a virtue in a liberal democratic society. The main findings show that the suspended student is seen as a democratic risk factor by a majority of the student teachers. On the other hand, those who disagree, maintain that the school's handling of the situation and the attitude towards Sven, the suspended student, could be a democratic risk factor. The findings are discussed in the light of different views of democracy and human rights and of 'the ethos of the teacher'. The article considers the idea of zero tolerance and maintains that the findings are in line with the related tendency to consider youth as a risk, instead of being at risk
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