Teaching Controversy

When wanting to present controversial topics in class it is important to think very carefully about one’s position before unleashing a pandora’s box that you are not prepared for. Controversial topics are some of the most interesting subjects to bring up in a teaching setting, because it often leads to a self-reflective state if done correctly. It provokes thoughts about the essence of human nature, moral grey areas, and what humans are capable of. I really loved the play by play break down of Mr. Stinson’s lesson. It is a great tool to know how to avoid pitfalls in conversations, while also, providing an in depth look of what students might say and their reasons for doing so. It is important to not outright tell your students what they should or shouldn’t believe. This style of teaching allows students to put themselves in a difficult or perhaps uncomfortable situation that they have to have a thoughtful discussion. However, an educator should not just leave their students to their own devices. The instructor’s role requires him to nudge the students in an appropriate direction as to avoid harmful ways of thinking as well as more constructive ways of thought.

These types of controversial discussions are also some of the most important to have when learning how to have an actual civil discussion. They teach students to not shout down something that they think is wrong but to engage with that idea and present even better ones in a civil and cordial manner. This skill is not just important on the debate team, but in future careers, as it presents one as being confident and thoughtful in future discussions. Diana Hess provides a valuable approach in her short paper when introducing a controversial subject. The most useful, in my opinion would be the balanced approach. The other three either take too tough a stand and have little leeway or do not offer enough push back. A balanced approach allows for critical thinking without the overbearing views of the teacher preventing any constructive thought. I think bringing up these views of not only the past but of the present. I think that it could be frightening to some kids who hear about the Ukrainian War, and potential threat of a nuclear conflict. Not only is this a subject that affects their current lives, but it provides a safe environment to pursue these worries and allow students to view them in a new and logical framework.