Democracy as Morality: Using Philosophical Dialogue to Cultivate Safe Learning Communities
Introduction: In order to begin to cultivate safe learning communities, serious social problems that manifest themselves in school settings and threaten its constituents need to be addressed. One such problem is bullying. Bullying is a type of peer aggression (Olweus, 1993; Rigby, 1996; Whitney & Smith, 1993) defined as unrelenting, willful and malicious physical or psychological abuse (Batsche & Knoff, 1994; Olweus, 1993) that results in physical or psychological harm (Smith & Thompson, 1991) to the victim (Smith & Sharp, 1994; Underwood, 2003), the bully (Batsche & Knoff, 1994) and the bystander (Twemlow, Fonagy & Sacco, 2004). Approximately 160,000 students stay home from school each day because they are afraid of being bullied (Vail, 1999), and an estimated half a million students nationwide are marked absent every 30 days because of bullying (Sampson, 2000). Thus, bullying clouds the school setting with fear and anxiety, which adversely affects a student’s ability to learn (Greenbaum, Turner & Stephens, 1989).