The directives have upset some parents who say the events following the police officer shooting of Michael Brown present a wealth of teaching opportunities for their children, many of whom have been watching the situation unfold on television. But school administrators say teachers have been inserting their opinions into the discussions, which is why they’re shutting them down altogether.
Certainly, this can be issue for us as educators. We are told, constantly, to avoid an semblance of opinion when discussing controversial topics in the classroom. And certainly as teachers we do our best to allow our students to feel free to express their own thoughts and opinions, living the tenets of good citizenship that we seek to instill. But is it truly possible to avoid students becoming aware of your own personal opinions on controversial topics? Even when we strive the hardest to remain neutral, how we word our questions and responses, how our body language and faces react to stated opinions, even whether or not we choose to address a topic often gives away our own views. To avoid this, many teachers in civics and the social studies will avoid controversial topics. Certainly, it IS possible to approach controversial issues in our classrooms. So the question is, how do YOU address controversial topics in your classroom? Do your students know your own thoughts on the issue?