Learning to teach controversial issues: A path forward

By Judith L. Pace
October 2022
Dealing with controversial issues is one of the most important tasks teachers perform. At the same time, we must acknowledge that today, fear of backlash for addressing “contentious, politicized topics” contributes significantly to educator stress (Woo et al., 2022). A widespread “conflict campaign,” a right-wing movement attacking curriculum that addresses gender and sexuality, racial injustice, and other subjects related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (Pollock & Rogers, 2022), has generated laws in 17 states and 100-plus pending bills that censor teaching. Teachers confront a real dilemma as they weigh their commitment to educational purposes versus protection for themselves, their students, and their schools. As a nation and a world community, we are facing unprecedented attacks on democracy and human rights, consequences of a global pandemic,

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Judith l pace

Judith L. Pace ( is professor of teacher education at the University of San Francisco. Her work and resource on teaching about controversial issues can be found at

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