ABSTRACT

Youth is characterized by the drive for social acceptance. In fact, though, this instinct affects the behavior of adults as well, and the intensity of our country’s political polarization can be explained in part by our inclination to shelter in the security of the in-group to the exclusion of the “others.” Students deserve training that will position them to communicate and collaborate with the political other, but, even more compellingly, the health of the country also requires this. This chapter establishes the interlocking claims that anchor the book: that political polarization presents a formidable challenge; that Americans’ polarization is rooted in social and emotional dynamics upon which education can shine a light; that educators have a duty to ameliorate the situation by preparing students to build bridges across the political divide; and finally, that students’ success relies on the willingness of educators to engage in the professional development that will empower us to meet their needs.