Dealing With Controversial Subjects
It is all but impossible to avoid controversial subjects or topics. And there is a wide range of opinions on how to handle things when they come up. There's also a school of thought that the best way to deal with controversial subjects is to deal with the underlying causes up-front.
It's always a good idea to check with your principal or administrator to see what the school's policy is regarding controversial topics.
The authors of this British site feel that controversial topics will come up -- they can be found in some curricula -- and they should be tackled head on. They feel students "should not be sheltered from difficult issues – it is important for them to clarify their emotions and values and learn to think for themselves. ... Additionally, using controversial issues helps young people to develop a number of skills, including inquiry, critical thinking and analytical skills." The site provides concrete guidelines and ideas for how to handle these topics in the classroom.
This site from Great Britain looks at the Teacher's dilemma and how setting ground rules up front can help.
The Annenberg Foundation's encourages teachers to use past controversies to teach students how to see different points of view, separate fact from opinion, and develop skills for dealing with controversial subjects.
These workshop notes from Carilton College looks at the some of the issues surrounding controversial topics -- pre-held beliefs, biases and stereotypes, and all or nothing attitudes -- and how to deal with them.
Includes details and strategies on teaching evolution and environmental issues.
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