Controversy Education in Secondary Social Science Classrooms: Issues, Concerns, and Implementation

By Zarra, Ernest J., III | Social Studies Review, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

Controversy Education in Secondary Social Science Classrooms: Issues, Concerns, and Implementation


Zarra, Ernest J., III, Social Studies Review


Controversy Education in secondary Social Science Classrooms: Issues, Concerns, and Implementation

TWO KEY ISSUES

Why in the world would secondary teachers want to take on controversy as part of their instructional regimen? The presentation of controversial issues very delicate, to be sure. Whether issues such as stem cell research, euthanasia, abortion, homosexual marriage, or others, teachers risk much through "controversy education, including a better education for their students. Having spoken personally with dozens of high school and college educators throughout the nation and parts of Europe, there seemed to emerge two major issues from the opening question. Each warrants a brief examination.

Issue #1 : Should educators rule out dealing with "some" controversial issues-particularly if they are grounded in serious disagreement, or unlikely to be resolved? The answer to this question is a resounding "No!" Educators must come to understand clearly that many controversial issues may not be solved within classrooms-and that is all right. After all, some controversial issues are marked by a lack of resolution. Nonetheless, teachers can strive for the shedding of new light, or even a broader understanding of an issue by students. The realization that some issues take time to solve will empower students to continue to strive for solutions to problems, promoting others into serious inquiry. Teachers should not avoid the teaching of a controversial issue simply because it cannot be quantitatively analyzed, or solved within the design of a school period.

Issue #2: What happens if parents object to dealing with controversial issues in the classroom? Richard Riley, former secretary of Education (1994), understood the nature of this concern when he wrote:

There are many Americans, and many of them are deeply religious, who are skeptical about any expert or federal official, including the U. S. secretary of Education, having a role in informing them how they should mold their children's characters. Yes, they are deeply concerned about characters and ethics. We need to be aware of this skepticism, recognize why it has developed, and work to find those connections that enable us to reach out to these Americans.

In terms of "controversy education" curriculum, it is critical to run things across the desk of school administrators. First, teachers must be aware of state curriculum framework and content standards for social science. Within the document, there is much flexibility to deal with unresolved "issues" in society-at-large. In 1994, the California State Board of Education adopted a handbook on the rights and responsibilities of school personnel and students in the areas providing "Moral, Civic, and Ethical Education Teaching About Religion Promoting Responsible Attitudes and Behaviors and Preventing and Responding to Hate Violence." California expects teachers to be proactive in dealing with controversial issues, as understood in the following excerpt from the document:

All educators are obliged to awaken youth to the moral and ethical values that build a fundamental strength of character and are firmly grounded in our American heritage. There is a common core of personal qualities and social imperatives with which all citizens must be conversant and to which each is accountable. This common core ... must be integrally woven throughout curriculum, instruction, programs, and activities provided in the California public schools. Moreover, educators are obligated to model these personal qualities and evidence their respect for these social imperatives in their daily interactions with students (Center for Civic Education 1996-7).

Since it is apparent that the state "obligates" teachers to bring moral and ethical values into the classroom, it would help to have some practical guidelines on how to go about this implementation as smoothly as possible. However, it is sometimes both the values chosen and the methods of implementation that some parents find offensive (Loges & Kidder 1997). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Controversy Education in Secondary Social Science Classrooms: Issues, Concerns, and Implementation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.