A Teaching Resource for Dealing with Controversial and Sensitive Issues in TDSB Classrooms
In support of the Toronto District School Board guidelines on the teaching of controversial and sensitive issues, this document is intended to help teachers and students understand and deal confidently with bias and controversial issues. It supports a cross-curricular approach to equity education and recognizes human rights in the school environment and in the community. It recognizes that the freedom to learn and to think is essential to a democracy. Its basic premise is that teachers must teach students to identify and deal with bias in any medium. Ideally, the guidelines should transcend the classroom and be applied to other aspects of student and school life. Learning flourishes when the lesson is connected to the learner’s life. Education cannot exist in a vacuum; through its own community of students and staff, the school is linked to the community that surrounds it, and to the greater world.
If our students are to “know” this world, to learn responsibility, controversy will inevitably be a part of their learning. One objective of this resource document is to provide criteria for handling controversy in the school environment. Any school subject can harbour controversial issues, for example, historical accounts of the causes of war, family life studies, the social and political implications of advances in the sciences, or a discussion of current events. Sexism and racism, or any form of prejudice or discrimination that touches someone personally, are attitudes and behaviours that students experience deeply. A classroom that is relevant to students’ lives cannot help but include sensitive issues about work, family, and society. Controversy is a natural part of the process of knowing.
© 2003 Toronto District School Board
Reproduction of this document for use by schools within the Toronto District School Board is encouraged.
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This document has been reviewed for equity.