Controversial issues in the classroom
How do young children make sense of current events and controversial issues? This site provides resources, strategies and ideas for dealing with topics such as racism or refugees in a positive way to promote values and develop understanding.Teachers play an important role in promoting values such as respect, fairness, participation, cooperation, integrity and care, not only in the way they teach but also in what they teach.
Curated by Catherine Smyth
Before we make our minds up about asylum seekers in Australia, we need to dig a little deeper. Take a Road to Refuge journey and challenge yourself – what would you do if you were in the shoes of a refugee?
Information and resources for understanding and teaching about refugees.
The Controversial Issues Policy (NSW Department of Education and Communities) provides directions for the management of controversial issues in the classroom.
This film explains what values are, how people learn them, and what actions tell about values. An example is given of method, outlined on the screen, for mak...
This fairly old video clip explains what values are.
A WOMAN has been filmed dishing out a racist rant on a peak hour train.
Using current issues or events to teach HSIE K-6.
Most Australians celebrate Australia Day as the day Australia was founded.
In contrast, Aboriginal people mourn their history and call it ‘Invasion Day’.
Australia Day (January 26) is a significant event in the nation's calendar but not everyone agrees on what the day represents. For some Australians, Australia Day is about national identity or national values. For others, Australia Day represents something different. This website offers an Aboriginal perspective on Australia Day.I am interested in how teachers can deal with an issue or a topic that may be controversial in the community.
The researchers, Barton & Levstik, argue that conflict is fundamental to democracy and that teachers should be honest with their students about both the conflict and consensus surrounding an event or an issue. Rather than closing down discussion or differences of opinion, they suggest that teachers should prepare their students for a reasoned discussion about an issue. Teachers should carefully plan and scaffold the discussion about a contentious issue.
The following scaffold uses some of ideas and research findings of Barton & Levstk (2005) in Doing History. Using these ideas, teachers can plan a discussion about Australia Day or any other current event:
1. Pose an inquiry question e.g. "What is Australia Day?", "How has Australia Day changed?". As a class, come up with additional questions.
2. Prepare primary and secondary sources related to the topic (e.g. Babakiueria DVD, newspaper articles, cartoons, songs, photographs, diary entries, historical narratives etc;)
3. Do some background research. Present facts and knowledge (e.g. dates, places, people). Use a graphic organiser to organise information. For example, use a T Chart, Venn Diagram, Retrieval Chart. (Check out the free downloadable templates on Global Education http://www.globaleducation.edu.au/1840.html).
5. Provide opportuntities for small group background work around different aspects of the topic. Gather information about different perspectives about the topic.
6. Provide time for students to form a tentative position. Students can write a positional statement using evidence they have found.
7. Allow time to discuss and think.
This Bok Center Online Document lists evaluation
forms that faculty members can use in their courses.
This online paper explores how difficult encounters in the classroom can be used for teaching and learning.