Teaching with Controversy: From Charlottesville to Chicago

by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director

Mary Ellen and I have posted twice on teaching the events of Charlottesville earlier this month and its aftermath. This piece attempts to localize several of the issues that surfaced there and throughout the country as we collectively make sense of both the past and present in our civics classrooms this fall.

The Illinois high school civics course requirement embeds discussion of current and controversial issues, a pedagogy we have also written about at great length. My initial post on the subject emphasized the importance of issue select when bringing controversy into the classroom. Issues include “…meaningful and timely questions about public problems that deserve both students’ and the public’s attention.”

Charlottesville clearly meets this test, and the issues emanating from these events have local dimensions.
Please contact us and share how you are localizing the events of Charlottesville in your own classrooms.

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