- they are topical
- they can be directly related to students' lives
- it is an essential part of the curriculum if universities are to fulfill their role in society
- it provides a chance for staff and students to reflect, to develop, to practice, to comprehend
- it can assist students to develop their ethical and moral reasoning.
Characteristics of controversial issues
- A controversial issue is one in which
- there are competing values and interests
- people disagree strongly about statements, assertions or actions
- there is political sensitivity
- emotions become strongly aroused
- protest is aroused.
- Controversial issues can be about
- what has happened
- the causes of the present situation
- the desirable ends to work towards
- the appropriate course of action to be taken
- the likely effect of action
- is usually complex
- requires knowledge, awareness of self and a sense of identity
- requires balance, disclosure of commitment and 'neutrality' i.e. taking a stance without coercion or indoctrination of others.
Strategies for teaching controversial issues
The teacher's task in addressing controversial issues includes:
- Establishing the ground rules
- Moderating "classroom incivilities"
- Moderating both their own and their students' over-attachment to content and overreaction to criticism
- Moderating negative thinking and strong emotions.
However, it is useful to note that what may result
- for students is not clearer ideas but greater confusion, and hopefully a commitment to questioning and further independent exploration of the ISSe
- for you the teacher, a sense of achievement.