PEP Seminar: Teaching controversial and sensitive issues in the wake of 9/11, by Alex Elwick (4-5pm, London Time, Mon 6th December 2021, free, online)

None of the pupils in schools today were alive at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks – and yet they are profoundly affected by the repercussions of the event, subject to policy instruments and statutory requirements such as the Prevent Duty and the inculcation of the Fundamental British Values into spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) education. Based on research for both the Association for Citizenship Teaching and the charity ‘Since 9/11’ (as well as the wider literature base) – in this talk I will discuss what pupils say they want in terms of teaching and learning about controversial and sensitive issues; what resources are currently available to support schools and teachers; and some approaches used by teachers in their classrooms. Recent research suggests teachers express confidence in addressing issues related to extremism or the Prevent policy, and yet students have described having few opportunities to discuss terrorism in class; while the government’s ‘Educate Against Hate’ website is a problematic and uneven repository for resources. Nonetheless, there exist examples of good practice – instances where space for discussion are opened up and an educational (rather than a securitisation or safeguarding) approach can be adopted.

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