Friday, May 18, 2012

Week 1

Of this weeks readings, I found Kelly's article to be most interesting. Kelly gave a clear argument for why a teacher should state his/her positions on controversial topics using the committed impartiality perspective. One of the factors of committed impartiality according to Kelly is mutuality. Kelly states, "Mutuality involves teachers' belief that students can make useful contributions to the learning process. Teachers show genuine respect for students' knowledge and interests, manifested in a nonimpositional, nonpatronizing style of interaction". This quote stood out to me because I believe this is one of the most important parts of teaching and the only way to have successful discussions about controversial topics in a classroom.
 I found myself agreeing with most of Kelly's reasoning throughout the article although I haven't yet been able to put the committed impartiality perspective into action in my own teaching. Kelly brings up research that says that students learn from a model, and that a teacher should be a model of how to discuss controversial topics openly, and build an educated opinion while still respected the opinion of others. It is important that students learn these skills to participate in many aspects of life and of citizenship. I also agree that by sharing their position as part of the discussion, and accepting criticism puts students at a more equal level with the teacher and makes them feel like their contribution is truly valuable. I would like to share my position with students but I always find myself feeling hesitant. I think being able to successfully take the committed impartiality perspective in the classroom is one of the major skills that I will focus on building throughout my career.


  1. Great insights on the role of the teacher in controversial issues discussion. As we go into the book talks and the sensitive issues in these readings, it is great to be reminded of the points you have made!

  2. Danielle,
    I agree with the points you brought up here. The Kelley article was particularly interesting because learning about how to approach controversial subjects is always practical since we as social studies teachers find ourselves in tricky spots when covering material. You would think history would be cut and dry, since what happened happened. However, controversy always arises and it is not always easy to appropriately explain what happened or what is currently happening. I think the approach Kelley explains is a great model for teachers to follow. I find students tend to align their opinions with the teacher, since some of them are in the developmental stages where forming opinion and identity are not quite fully developed. It is flattering for a class full of students to agree with you, but I think it is even better for students to disagree or raise counter arguments because it promotes a healthy ecosystem of ideas in the classroom. Being impartial helps students feel safe and doesn't penalize them for having a potentially different point of view than the teacher.