- Introduce the objectives of the workshop (OHT 1) and outline the sequence of activities set out
on OHT 2.
- Play the 'MC Game' as an introductory activity. 'MC' is a game much
like bingo except that squares and lines are completed by participants
moving around the room and seeking information from each other.
- Distribute copies of Resource 1
to all participants and ask them to fill in as many squares as possible
by questioning other group members. Once participants have found someone
who can answer one of the questions, they write the name of that person
and a brief answer in the appropriate box. That person's name can appear
only once on the sheet. Each time a row of boxes (horizontally, vertically
or diagonally) is completed, participants call out the letters "MC" -
just as in Bingo.
- After initial comments on personal responses to the game, ask participants
to suggest what the letters 'MC' might represent.
- Many answers will be given but explain that the one of particular
interest to this workshop is 'Marine Controversy'
- Use discussions about this issue as a lead in to the next activity.
2. Teaching Controversial Issues
- Present a mini-lecture on 'Teaching Controversial Issues in the Classroom'
using Reading 1 and Reading 2,
OHT 3, Resource 2
and Resource 3. The key points to make are:
- Emphasise that 'values neutral' teaching is impossible because
of the influence that our socio-economic context has on us.
- Explain that the role of the teacher instead, is to help students
identify the range of values and social interests involved in any
given situation and to evaluate these using the principles of ecologically
sustainable development and the values of democratic decision making,
appropriate development, conservation and social justice (as established
in Module 1 as values underlying education for a sustainable
- Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the four 'teacher
stances' on teaching controversial issues summarised in Resource 2:
Balance, Devil's Advocate, Procedural Neutrality and Stated Commitment.
- Distribute a copy of Resource 3
to each participant. Invite discussion on the relative merits of each
of the points, the possible obstacles to these strategies, and how these
obstacles might be overcome (OHT 3). Questions might include:
- Is the list of strategies exhaustive? If not, what else should
have been included?
- Are there some strategies that you feel should not have been included?
Why do you think they were?
- Are there any immediate obstacles to implementing these strategies?
How could they be overcome?
- Can you identify examples in your own teaching where you have
followed knowingly, or unknowingly, some or all of these ideas?
- How can teachers support each other to teach about environmental
issues in a professionally ethical way?
3. 'Whale Bay' Role Play
One approach to use in teaching controversial issues is that of role
play or simulation games.
- Ask participants to briefly report on their previous experiences of
using role plays in teaching.
- Explain that in this activity, participants role play residents and
interested parties in 'Whale Bay', where a marine park has been proposed.
The Shire President has called a public meeting to decide if the proposed
marine park should proceed.
Running the Activity
- Distribute Resource 4 which contains
background information about Whale Bay. Give participants a few minutes
to read through this.
- Distribute a role card from Resource
5 to each group or individual. This role card should be used to
formulate their position and arguments.
- Each player or group of players, takes on the role of a particular
interest group that will be involved in deciding the future of Whale
- Participants express their views at the public meeting which is convened
by the Shire President. This meeting should be conducted by formal meeting
procedures to discuss the motion (OHT 4).
The public of Whale Bay demands that the Shire Council immediately
urge the State Minister of Environment to protect the whale watching
tourist industry which is vital to the economy of Whale Bay by strictly
enforcing all existing whale protection measures, and further reduce
human impacts by (i) placing a ban on all commercial fishing within
five kilometres of the coastline, and (ii) imposing a $10 per person
tourist levy on all tour boat passengers to fund whale conservation.
- The Shire President should call for speakers as follows
- Someone to move and second the motion.
- Short speeches by these two persons.
- Speakers against the motion then alternate with speakers for the
- The 'mover' of the motion has a right of reply.
- The Shire President then calls for a public vote on the motion.
- Ask persons who did not speak in the debate to explain their voting
- Evaluate the economic, social and environmental effects of the decision.
- Ask participants to suggest a way of managing the Whale Bay controversy
which would meet the needs of more people in a spirit of compromise
with everybody 'winning' and at a minimal cost to the coastal and marine
4. Evaluating Role Play
OHT 5 and Resource
6 contain a list of the educational advantages often claimed of role
play as a teaching approach. This activity requires participants to evaluate
the Whale Bay role play as an approach to handling controversial issues.
- Divide participants into small groups and ask them to comment on the
extent to which the Whale Bay role play reflected the advantages claimed
of role play in Resource 6.
- Ask for group reports.
- Ask groups to indicate whether they identified any problems or disadvantages
of role play in teaching. Make a list of these on an OHT or whiteboard.
Ask for other possible disadvantages - brainstorm!
- Ask the group to suggest ways of categorising the disadvantages (e.g.
the degree of relevance to real life, the scope and representativeness
of the roles, classroom management problems, etc).
- Discuss with the group the extent to which these problems could be
overcome (how?) and whether they outweigh the claimed advantages of
role play (OHT 5 / Resource 6).
- Review the suggested principles for handling controversial issues
in the classroom on OHT 3.
- Ask participants to select three principles that they feel very strongly
about and will try to focus on in their teaching in coming weeks.