Young Citizens resources on Handling Controversial Issues ‘best-sellers’ in Europe
Young Citizens resources on helping teachers and school leaders to handle controversial issues were singled out for special praise at an international conference held in Brussels this month. The conference was organised to celebrate the success of projects supported by the joint European Commission/ Council of Europe ‘Democratic and Inclusive School Culture in Operation’ (DISCO) programme.
Conference participants heard how two Young Citizens training manuals, and , have become essential elements in teacher – and head teacher-education and professional development across Europe. In her introductory speech, Katia Dolgova-Dreyer, Programme Coordinator of the Co-operation and Capacity-Building Division in the Education Department of the Council of Europe, described the resources as the Council’s “best-sellers”.
The manuals were compiled and written by Young Citizens consultants, David Kerr and Ted Huddleston, with the support of a number of European colleagues. The first manual deals with the skills educators need to be able to handle controversial issues safely in the classroom – think Brexit. The second is a self-evaluation tool designed to help head teachers develop a more strategic approach to the management of controversy at school level – think Fridays for Future (FFF) climate emergency strikes.
Teaching Controversial Issues has now been translated into 23 European languages and is in use in countries from Iceland to the former Soviet republics. Managing Controversy has been translated into 12 languages. It recently received official certification from the Greek Ministry of Education for use in Greece in 2019-20.
Following up on these successes, David and Ted are currently finishing work on a third Council of Europe resource in this field, Learning to Handle Controversial Issues in Schools and Related Education Settings. The new resource is a good practice guide on how to use the manuals. It draws on the experiences of expert trainers and facilitators from across Europe and combines stories of implementing the manuals with practical tips and hints learned in the process.