Introducing Controversial Issues

Students can feel put upon, having the impression that no one understands their position and everyone is against them. This can be exacerbated when the class deals with controversial issues. There are several ways to bring balance, not just to the classroom, but also to the student’s understanding of an issue.

When students deal with controversial topics, they can write on the side they agree with and, unfortunately, they will often make sweeping logical errors because it is the side they agree with. One way to minimize this is to require them to write on the side they disagree with, although as a teacher you have to know which side they are on before the assignment is given. Another is to require refutations. A third is to have them write on both sides of the argument, creating two balanced papers arguing first against their stance and then for it. All these approaches are useful and in addition to honing the students’ argumentation, they can sometimes bring the students around to another point of view.

This is my second proposal for the TYCA-SW.

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