Let’s talk politics
Which individual and classroom compositional characteristics matter in classroom discussions?
Deliberative democratic theory puts discussions at the centre of democracy. Schools are places where young people can practise such discussions. In this article, we argue that these perceptions of deliberation in class are differential for different young people. Individual student characteristics matter when making schools successful in creating an ‘open discussion climate’. Using the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) 2009, we find that gender, self-efficacy and socio-economic background have an impact on the perception of such a climate. If students evaluate discussion opportunities differently based on background characteristics, alternate strategies should be developed to get everyone to deliberate. Future research looking into the quality of discussions should take this into account, as boys or students with a lower SES (socio-economic status) might need extra stimulation to perceive the classroom as a place to discuss public matters. Also, schools and policymakers should be aware when deciding which civic education strategy should be followed to obtain the desired results.