This is a time of extraordinary polarization and lack of civility in our national political discourse. As social studies educators, it is part of our mission to teach students how to evaluate different perspectives on important issues and how to discuss them with civility and respect. In 2016, a survey of NCSS members ranked teaching about controversial issues first among the special topics that they would like to see covered in Social Education. This issue includes a special section on that subject whose guest editor, Diana E. Hess, is an expert on the discussion of controversies in the classroom.
Confronting False Narratives in the Debate over Immigration William McCorkle, Mikel W. Cole, Mindy SpearmanExamining the featured political cartoons offers students an opportunity to analyze myths about immigration and to consider ways that politicians have historically used nativist sentiments for political gain. Civics/Government, US History
Little Rock of the North: Segregation in New Rochelle, New York Christopher ZarrStudents’ investigation into the 1961 Supreme Court case that addressed desegregation efforts in New York can be a springboard into research into the desegregated status of their own local schools Secondary Level US History
Why Korea? Why Now? Using Inquiry to Teach about the Korean War and Its Legacy Jongwoo Han and Joseph KarbThe inquiry-based materials and audio interviews of Korean War veterans highlighted in this article offer an excellent entry point into a lesson on the “forgotten” war and its legacy. World History
Rethinking Immigration as a Controversy Dafney Blanca Dabach, Natasha Hakimali Merchant, Aliza K. FonesBy reframing typical approaches to classroom debates on immigration, we empower immigrant students to be active participants in, rather than the subjects of, our conversation. Secondary Level Civics/Government
A Pathway to Racial Literacy: Using the LETS ACT Framework to Teach Controversial Issues LaGarrett J. King, Amanda E. Vickery, Genevieve CaffreyExploring race and other controversial issues in a civil and productive manner develops students’ racial literacies and equips them to be proactive citizens in a democratic society. Civics/Government
Teaching Controversial Issues in a Time of Polarization Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg and Rey JuncoFamilies and principals can play a crucial role in fostering controversial-issue classroom discussions that support students’ civic learning. Secondary Level Civics/Government
Lessons Learned about the Challenges of Classroom Deliberations Avner Segall, Margaret S. Crocco, Anne-Lise Halvorsen, Rebecca JacobsenStudents can gain important citizenship skills by practicing argumentation and evidence use, examining their own thinking, and speaking to those with whom they disagree. Secondary Level Civics/Government