Who wants a political classroom? Attitudes toward teaching controversial political issues in school

Authors

  • Shahar Gindi Beit Berl College
  • Yitzhak Gilat
  • Rachel Sagee Levinsky College of Education

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.11576/jsse-3943

Keywords:

controversial political issues; attitudes; civil education; democracy

Abstract

  • The study examined teachers’, parents’ and students’ attitudes toward controversial political issues (CPI).
  • A Random stratified sample of 501 adults and 201 high school students completed questionnaires.
  • Respondents had little confidence in teachers’ ability to conduct CPI discussions in classrooms.
  • Students reported low incidents of CPI discussions in classrooms.
  • Support for CPI discussions differed according to specific topics.

Purpose: Many argue for the benefits of controversial political issues (CPI) discussions but little is known about teachers’, parents’, and students’ attitudes toward CPI. The present study explored these attitudes, as well as attitudes towards specific controversial topics, and how they relate to socio-demographic variables.

Design/methodology/approach: Quantitative cross-sectional methodology was employed using questionnaires to collect data.  Random stratified sampling was used to obtain a representative sample of 501 Jewish Israeli adults, including 70 teachers, and 201 Jewish Israeli 10th-12th grade students.

Findings: Respondents, including the teachers themselves, had little confidence in teachers’ ability to conduct CPI discussions in classrooms. Students reported low incidents of CPI discussions in classrooms, and that they are mostly held by homeroom and civics teachers. Students supported CPI discussions more than adults (including teachers) and wanted teachers to disclose their opinions much more than adults did. Support for CPI discussions differed according to specific topics. Linear regression revealed that the less religious individuals are, the more left-wing, older and more educated, the more they will support CPI teaching.

Author Biographies

Shahar Gindi, Beit Berl College

Dr. Shahar Gindi is a lecturer and a researcher at Beit Berl College as well as a clinical and school psychologist. He has published in different areas relating to psychology, education and program evaluation. His main research interests are Controversial Political Issues (CPI) and minority teachers.

shaharg@beitberl.ac.il

Yitzhak Gilat

Prof. Yitzhak Gilat, a psychologist by profession, lectures on psychology and research methods at Levinsky College of Education and serves as head of Research, Evaluation and Development Authority at Levinsky College. His research deals with the mental well-being of adolescents and teachers, the professional development of teachers and educators for teaching and evaluation of educational programs.

itzik.gilat@levinsky.ac.il

Rachel Sagee, Levinsky College of Education

Dr. Rachel Sagee, a senior researcher in the Research, Evaluation and Development Authority at Levinsky College and an educational consultant in her profession. Her research examines shared living, adolescent and teacher mental well-being, and professional development of teachers and teacher-educators. She has published two prose books.

r_sagee@netvision.net.il

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Published

2021-06-17