Teachers in every subject area face the challenge of teaching content that may be controversial in some way. The global origin of Language, for example, allows teachers to explore not only different cultures and traditions but also contentious issues as environment, sustainability and historical or current event such as immigration.
As a Lote teacher, I personally believe that such issues are a perfect vehicle for students to grapple with their faith and reach a deeper understanding of the economic and moral effects of these problems in the world and especially in Australia. They provide opportunities for involving both `head and hart` during the discussion and perceive different prospectives of the reality.
In the catholic environment in which I teach, the St. Mary's College in Hobart, there are policies in place to ensure that teachers have an understanding of what is appropriate for the students in both developmentally and culturally. The school's mission statement, also , stresses that " we provide strong role models who attempt to demonstrate leadership in applying Christian values to contemporary issues in education, care of the environment and social issues" (St. Mary's College Statement of Mission, 2014).
Educators are encouraged to use their facilitator skills to enable dynamic discussions with emphasis on Christian values in order to build the critical faculties of students in a physical and emotional safety environment. The purpose of the discussion, also, is to improve students' higher order thinking skills as required in the Australian National Curriculum.
When planning instruction for controversial topics, however, educators need to consider not only student's emotional age, school's values and policies, also material covered in the Curriculum (Holden 2004) but also teacher's role.
In this regards, my teaching philosophy supports and embraces the principles of Active Learning (Bonwell and Eison, 1991), where the teacher is not the sole transmitter of the knowledge but students are engaged in activities that promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content (Prince, 2004). Discussing global and local issues enable my students to learn actively and develop critical and creative thinking capabilities by "applying new ideas in specific contexts , identifying alternative explanations, and making new links that generate positive outcomes " in all learning areas at school and in their lives beyond school (Australian Curriculum, 2012).
In order to introduce immigration, I usually have a planned Grade 10 challenging unit with a series of activities to develop an understanding of the history of a cultural group such as the Italian migrants who have contributed significantly to modern Australia. I start the module, however, displaying a recent video about asylum seekers. These controversial issues is included into my existing teaching sessions by anticipating to students that some cross cultural issues may arise from the presented...