Mad about ideals? Educating children to become reasonably passionate

S.M.A. Sieckelinck, D.J. de Ruyter

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The current public concern about radicalization and extremism challenges philosophers and particularly philosophers of education to explore questions such as "Why do adolescents with strong ideas transgress?" and "What can we do about it?" The first question can be addressed by examining the role of their passionate commitment to their ideals as well as how this passion manifests in their pursuit of these ideals. The second question refers to the role of education in orienting and directing young people's passionate attachment to and pursuit of ideals. In this essay, Stijn M.A. Sieckelinck and Doret J. de Ruyter argue that educating children to become reasonably passionate about ideals is a justifiable, and in fact an important, educational aim. This educational aim rests upon the notion that people take a rational, moral, and prudent stance toward their ideals and that they pursue their ideals in a way limited (yet also enabled) by rational, moral, and prudent considerations. While extremism is not likely to be defeated by educational efforts only, democratic citizenship demands urgent educational attention to young people's passion for ideals. © 2009 Board of Trustees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-196
Number of pages16
JournalEducational Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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