This instructional guide for teachers provides practical guidance on how to structure a political classroom. This guide was developed from research outlined in two books that resulted from one longitudinal study: Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion by Diana Hess and The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education by Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy. In each book, the major findings are showcased through case studies. This guide draws from six case studies—three from each book—to outline key features of a political classroom.

A central argument of The Political Classroom is that schools are and ought to be political sites. The authors use the term “political” as it applies to the role of citizens within a democratic society. They assert that citizens are political when they are democratically making decisions about questions that ask how should we live together? And by extension, the authors argue, “The political classroom is one that helps students develop their ability to deliberate political questions.”

This guide is split into two documents: The first document guides the aims, purposes, and characteristics of a political classroom. The second other outlines how teachers can create political classrooms.