Title: Teaching about Controversial or Sensitive Issues
Adopted: November 28, 1984
Last Revised: August 22, 2007
TEACHING ABOUT CONTROVERSIAL/SENSITIVE ISSUES
The School Committee recognizes that teaching about controversial/sensitive issues is a vital element both in the development of curriculum and in classroom teaching.
Teaching Controversial Issues
- It is the responsibility of the schools to make provision for the study of controversial issues.
1. The study should be emphasized in the high school, when most students are mature enough to study the significant controversial issues facing our society.
2. The study should be objective and scholarly in an environment that allows for multiple perspectives.
- In the study of controversial issues the students have the following rights:
1. The right to study any controversial issue.
2. The right to have free access to all relevant information;
3. The right to form and express opinions on controversial issues without thereby jeopardizing relations with the teacher or the school; and
4. The right to study under competent instruction in an atmosphere free from bias and prejudice from the instructor.
- The teacher employs the same methods in handling controversial issues as characterize the best teaching at any time.
1. The teacher, in selecting both the content and the method of instruction, is mindful of the maturity level of the students.
2. The teacher has assured him/herself that the controversial subject to be discussed belongs within the framework of the curriculum to be covered, that the subject is significant as well as meaningful for the students, and that through the discussion, students will have the opportunity to grow.
3. The teacher handles the classroom presentation in ways which will ensure a wide range of information and interpretation for the students’ consideration and strives to present multiple perspectives.
4. The teacher does not use the classroom as a personal forum. He/she does not employ the techniques of the demagogue or the propagandist for attention, for control, or simply for color. The teacher has the right to identify and express his/her own perspective in the classroom as long as he/she indicates clearly that it is his/her own.
5. The teacher emphasizes keeping an open mind, basing one’s judgment on known facts, looking closely at facts to evaluate them in terms of the subject under discussion, and being ready to change one’s opinion should new facts come into light.
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