Controversial issues: Section Guide

Katharine Burn, published 3rd December 2015

The legacy of the past and its impact on the present, as well as the process of interpretation by which accounts of the past are constructed, mean that many topics studied in history may carry an emotional charge. Certain events or developments may have a particular relevance – or resonance – for some young people and their communities, but carry different overtones (or none at all) for others. This section contains advice and resources for teachers who are tackling potentially sensitive topics that may generate emotionally charged responses and explores the issues that may arise as topics studied in the classroom intersect with personal, family and community histories. The materials here will help teachers to reflect carefully on the appropriateness of their objectives and to develop effective teaching strategies for promoting sensitive and productive kinds of discussion, especially when both the past and its implications for the present are disputed. They highlight the risks involved and the ways in which they can be mitigated, and include guidance and advice related to the Prevent Strategy.

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