A key resource on teaching controversy

March 15, 2014

ASCD has included Morningside Center's TeachableMoment.org website on its helpful list of resources for teaching controversial issues.

We know that teachers often avoid "hot-button" topics because the issues are so complex, or because they don't feel prepared to handle the strong feelings and opinions discussion might stir.  Here are some suggestions for how to take some of these issues on in constructive, thoughtful and sensitive ways:

5 Tips for Teaching Current Events to Younger Students
When my 9-year-old daughter asked me "Who is Trayvon Martin?" I knew this would take us into new territory. Her question led us to conversations about guns, racial profiling, violence and “Stand Your Ground” law. New territory is what makes life interesting, but it can also be scary and uncomfortable. 

Teaching About Controverisal or Difficult Issues
TeachableMoment's mission is to help teachers looking for ways to encourage critical thinking on issues of the day, as well as foster a positive classroom environment. Our approach is to integrate social and emotional skills with an exploration of interesting and relevant content. 

10-Point Model for Teaching Controversial Issues
A classic guide for how to explore sensitive issues in your classroom.

You may also want to check out:

Teaching Politics & the Politics of Teaching
It took me far too long to understand something of the political character of the school and my role in supporting it, far too long to realize that daily I was a political actor but had some choices about what kinds of politics I wanted to do and whose interests I preferred to serve.

Thinking is Questioning
Do you ever assign students a reading, to which they are to respond by writing several good questions? (In this context, a "good question" is one the writer believes that, if answered well, would lead him or her to a clearer, better understanding of the reading. The writer need not be able to answer any of his or her questions.)

How do you approach controverisal or sensitive issues with your students?  Please share your thoughts and strategies in the comments!