Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Controverial Conversations

With the recent slaying Dr. George Tiller, who ran one of the few late-term abortion clinics in the country, the abortion debate is back in the headlines. Considered one of the most divisive issues in America, abortion can be a difficult topic to address in the classroom, and one that can lead to heated debate.

This can be a scary topic to cover in the classroom, because it is so personal to many people. However, discussing controversial issues fosters real democratic deliberation, something that is extremely beneficial to your students and will help prepare them to be active citizens. Your students know these issues exist, and addressing them will encourage your students to find their studies to be relevant.

Perhaps you could have your students discuss the issue from a constitutional standpoint, and leave moral and religious views out of the discussion. By deliberating the issue you can help prepare your students to be active, informed participants in the real life controversial discussions they will have for the rest of their lives. There are a plethora of great sources out there to help you foster such discussions, such as Controversy in the Classroom, by Diana Hess.

Most students will know about Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision which said that most abortion laws in the country violated a person’s constitutional right to privacy, under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. You can have your students read the 14th Amendment and discuss whether or not they believe it applies in this case, although it can be difficult to keep students away from the moral and religious aspects of the issue.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the advice to teach good citizenship via exploration of controversial issues. I suggest to you and your readers. is a great (and free) source for teachers and students who want to think critically about tough social issues without bias or advertising getting in the way.