Educating the Rational Emotions: An Affective Response to Extremism

Educational Theory 73 (3):394-412 (2023)
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Educating against extremism doesn't just involve seeking to prevent individuals from becoming extremists or radicalized, although that, of course, is a significant concern. There is also an important role for education in teaching the rest of us, the general populace, the best way to react and respond when we learn of a terrorist attack or consider the potential risk of violent extremism in our community, or even worldwide, given we are connected globally via technology. In this article, Laura D'Olimpio argues that educators have a central role to play in teaching young people to respond to the news of violent extremism and the worry about terrorists and terrorism in ways that support our sense of community and personal well-being. Among the ways in which educators may support such aims is by educating the emotions. There are practical and moral reasons to temper our fearful reactions, and it is in our best interest to educate pupils to avoid allowing fear of terrorists or violent extremism to interfere with their daily lives and actions. D'Olimpio claims that our best response to extremism, both representationally and practically, is to refuse to be terrified. By not being overwhelmed by fear or altering our day-to-day activities, we not only better support a well-functioning democracy and our own happiness or flourishing, but we also disempower rather than empower extremists.



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Laura D'Olimpio
University of Birmingham

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