Making controversy the new normal in the 21st century classroom
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Making controversy the new normal in the 21st century classroom

Making controversy the new normal in the 21st century classroom

Traditional teaching values discipline and academic achievement as the highest markers of success.

This has created a classroom environment where obedience and discipline are rewarded, and immediately classed as ‘good behaviour’. This isn’t wrong but oftentimes it has resulted in an environment that doesn’t encourage independent and critical thinking, with students who choose to challenge the status quo sometimes accused of being delinquents.

This seems to to be changing, however, with more schools now recognising self-expression and controversial discussion as key skills for children entering tomorrow’s world.

Rather than preparing students to be obedient workers who can produce with maximum efficiency, students are now encouraged to be innovators, communicators and creative thinkers.

One way to do this is through motivating students to explore ideas and discussion techniques in healthy debate, reports Ed Surge.

Introducing controversial conversation into the classroom can be risky but education experts believe it is an important skill.

The world is changing, after all, and these changes can be seen not just in schools, but in the workspace and even at home. Workers don’t always just sit quietly and do as their boss tells them regardless how ridiculous the task, and the family structure is also becoming less conventional and hierarchical.

The ever-evolving tech industry has revolutionised what is valued in an employee, as there are now reliable machines to do the mechanical jobs students used to be trained for.

Society is also becoming more diversified, meaning students need to understand how to interact with people from different races, genders, backgrounds and perspectives to themselves.

Children are being prepared for a false world if schools still make them sit in silence for six hours a day while they complete worksheets. The real world expects critical thinking and creative problem-solving.

If teachers purposefully introduce controversial topics into classroom discussions, students can learn how to navigate differing opinions as well as understand how to respectfully disagree with someone, Ed Surge reported.

This will help increase tolerance between students and encourage them to understand the complex perspectives of other people.

If teachers continue to keep the classroom to one of silence and obedience, they will enter the world unable to tackle the real-world problems they will inevitably face.

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