EL Study Guide: Talking About It

Welcome to the EL Study Guide on ASCD EDge. Each month, EL provides an online study guide to assist educators with their professional development. Here on EDge, we will regularly post excerpts from the Study Guide for EDge members to discuss.

 

The September EL theme is "Promoting Respectful Schools," and today's study guide excerpt focuses on discussing controversial topics in school.

 

As tempting as it may be to avoid conflict altogether, several September EL authors encourage teachers to do just the opposite. By organizing open and respectful discussions of racial conflicts ("Confronting Racial and Religious Tensions"); religious beliefs ("Putting a Face to Faith"); and other controversial topics ("Discussions That Drive Democracy"), teachers prepare students to tackle these issues.

  • What do you think about having open discussions of controversial topics in school? What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of having such conversations?
  • How do you respond when racial, religious, or other similar tensions arise in your school or classroom? If you chose to address the issue directly, how did you go about doing so, and how did students react?
  • In "Discussions That Drive Democracy", Diana Hess describes a model called town meeting for helping students talk about controversial topics. How well would this approach work with your students and your curriculum? What are some topics you might have students address in this way?

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