Abstract 3- Volume 3, Number 3, Winter 2008

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 3, Number 3, Winter 2008



Teaching Constructive Disagreement for a Loyal Opposition, Somatically

Jonathan Miller-Lane
Greg Selover
Middlebury College


The importance of learning how to disagree constructively has long been valued as a fundamental aspect of democratic life. Yet, while well-known discussion methodologies such as seminars, Structured Academic Controversy (SAC), and discussions of Controversial Public Issues (CPIs) foster essential skills for constructive disagreement, there is little explicit emphasis on connecting constructive disagreement with the concept of a loyal opposition in a democracy. The process of learning how to disagree constructively is also presented as one that is learned solely through intellectual exercises — any exploration of the body’s role in this process is generally ignored. This document argues that by more clearly linking constructive disagreement with the place of a loyal opposition in a democracy and by considering the body as an additional “entry point,” educators would be making a stronger case for the place of constructive disagreement skills in the social studies curriculum.

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About the Author(s)…

Jonathan Miller-Lane is an Assistant Professor of Education in the Teacher Education Program at Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT. He is also chief instructor of Blue Heron Aikido in Middlebury, VT. His research focuses on democratic education as an intellectual and somatic project.

Greg Selover is a Japanese major at Middlebury College (class of 2010) and holds the rank of yonku in Aikido.

Primary contact mailing address: Middlebury College, Twilight Hall 107, Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: (802) 443-3459; email: jmillerl@middlebury.edu