IMB Teaching about Controversial Issues
TEACHING ABOUT CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES
Training for effective citizenship is one of the major purposes of the public schools. The instructional program at the Veazie School Department places great emphasis upon teaching about our American heritage, the rights and privileges we enjoy as citizens, and the responsibilities that citizens assume to maintain our way of life and system of government. In training for effective citizenshipand in order to meet the goals of the curriculum, it may be sometimes appropriate for students to study issues that may be considered controversial.
A. The Veazie School Committee and staff shall focus on the rights and educational needs of students in considering controversial issues in the instructional program.
Students shall have the opportunity to study issues which have political, economic, and/or social significance in a manner appropriate to their level of maturity.
Students shall have access to relevant information and perspectives on the issue.
Instruction shall be objective and scholarly, with an emphasis on facts rather than opinions.
Students shall be allowed to form and express opinions on controversial issues without jeopardizing relations with the teacher or the school.
Instruction shall take place in an atmosphere free from bias and prejudice.
B. Teachers shall follow these guidelines in handling controversial issues:
In dealing with controversial issues, teachers are expected to use sound professional judgment and to seek the advice and counsel of the principal.
The teacher, in selecting both the content and the method of instruction, shall consider the maturity level of the students.
The teacher shall consider whether the controversial subject to be discussed belongs within the framework of the curriculum to be covered, whether the subject is significant as well as meaningful for the students, and whether discussion will provide students with the opportunity to grow and learn.
The teacher shall manage the classroom instruction to ensure that a wide range of information and interpretation is presented for the students’ consideration and strive to present a balance among many points of view.
The teacher shall not use the classroom as a personal forum. He/she shall not employ the techniques of the demagogue or the propagandist for attention, for control, or simply for color. The teacher may identify and express his/her own point of view in the classroom as long as he/she indicates clearly that it is his/her own.
The teacher shall emphasize 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 to light.
The teacher shall emphasize the method of forming an opinion is as important as the opinion formed.