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Лого на Европейската комисия
Migration and Home Affairs

Dialogue in Citizenship Education

Target Audience
key themes association
(Early) preventionFormal/informal education
Peer Reviewed practice



Is a company for social innovation, based in the Netherlands. Diversion tackles societal challenges through the development of creative concepts, in the fields of education, youth literacy, youth participation and emancipation.

Through several projects in education, we deploy young role models to open a discussion on subjects that youth may find uninteresting, or are politically sensitive or are associated with cultural or religious taboos or (e.g. antisemitism; anti-Islamism; radicalisation; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other sexual and gender minorities (LGBT+); and debt and poverty prevention).

The programme Dialogue in Citizenship Education is financed by the Dutch ministries of Social Affairs and Education.

Type of Organisation: Other

Project description

The media frequently reports stories of students from diverse backgrounds who express extreme opinions. This often occurs following discussions on current societal events, on ethnic, cultural, religious or sexual diversity, or on politics. Society commonly holds teachers responsible for establishing democratic values in students, and for preventing them from having and expressing extremist thoughts (that may ultimately lead to radicalisation and violent extremism).

However, when students express highly contentious views (e.g. 'You can send those refugees back on a leaky boat', or 'All Muslims are terrorists'), both new and experienced teachers are challenged to respond appropriately: teachers need support and guidelines for such situations.

Teachers often feel too distanced from students’ world views to be able to genuinely relate to them. Confronted with complex societal issues and tensions, they may struggle to adequately guide a discussion on these topics in the classroom. How does international conflict, radicalisation and polarisation influence the atmosphere in the classroom? And how does one respond to youngsters who are disconnected from society and do not seem to support democratic values and the rule of law?

Together with several teacher-training colleges, Diversion has developed a methodology to provide guidelines and support for teachers tackling such situations. Diversion draws on over 13 years of experience in discussing socially sensitive topics in the classroom, using the peer education methodology.

This employs young role models who use their own experience and references to engage in open conversations with students, not shying away from (positive) confrontation. Alongside teacher training colleges, we have translated lessons learned through this experience into guidelines for (student) teachers in the methodology, titled 'Dialogue in Citizenship Education'.

In this methodology, we provide clear steps, guidelines and exercises that help teachers guide conversations around conflicting values and polarising topics. A step-by-step approach helps teachers become an equal partner in conversations, facilitate open dialogue (while maintaining necessary boundaries) and round up the conversation and reflect on it.

Teachers are often expected to remain neutral in the classroom. The methodology posits that nobody is neutral: assuming neutrality when discussing these sensitive topics deflates the open atmosphere in the classroom, weakens teachers' credibility and makes them feel uncomfortable and frustrated. How should teachers manage their own morals and values in these conversations? And where do they draw the line regarding the expression of extreme opinions?


Primary school teachers and senior and vocational education teachers can download the methodologies and the preliminary research (in Dutch) free of charge from the following sites:

Contact details


Max Euweplein 36
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Contact person: Heleen Cousijn
Telephone: (+31) 203 059 286
Email | Website

Read the full practice

Dialogue in Citizenship Education
(168.26 KB - PDF)