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Controversy and Diversity in the Classroom

A controversy is a dispute, especially a public one, between sides holding opposing views. The numerous and varied controversies that arise in classrooms are often viewed negatively by teachers and students; as a result, some educators assume that controversies within schools should be prevented or suppressed. Certain controversies, however, can be highly educative. This entry focuses on a type of controversy that is purposely used in the curriculum to prepare students for full participation in democratic life: discussions of controversial political issues. These issues are authentic questions about types of public policies that should be adopted to address public problems.

Discussions of controversial topics are enhanced by diversity. All classrooms have diversity, even in communities that appear to be homogeneous. Dimensions of diversity among students include ...

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