This article reports on research in three secondary schools in England where students were engaged in deliberative discussion of controversial issues. The teaching resources used illustrated rights-based dilemmas and the data analysis focused on the nature of the talk and the types of knowledge the students drew upon to inform their discussions. The article shares four insights: (i) there is a need to be more explicit about what constitutes human rights knowledge; (ii) human rights education requires the development of political understanding, which moves beyond individual empathy; (iii) educators need to value the process of deliberative discussions and avoid a push for conclusive answers; (iv) students need support to draw on knowledge from a range of disciplines. If these issues are not addressed, some students are able to engage in rights-based discussions with little knowledge and understanding of rights.
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