School of Education News

McAvoy quoted in Baltimore Sun report on teaching empathy, effective discussion

October 17, 2017

UW-Madison's Paula McAvoy was quoted in an article from The Baltimore Sun about how to talk about controversial topics in the classroom. 

McAvoy is program director of the Center for Ethics and Education and co-author of the book,  “The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education.” McAvoy co-authored that publication with School of Education Dean Diana Hess, the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education at UW-Madison.

McAvoy and Hess also are developing and launching The Discussion Project, a program at UW-Madison that’s training faculty and teaching staff on how to create productive discussion with students on serious topics in a more inclusive classroom. 

Paula McAvoy
The article details a Baltimore high school principal's mission to teach her students how to be empathetic citizens and discuss controversial topics effectively in a required class titled "Community Citizenship."

"There are more teachers and school districts who want to try to teach students how to have civil discussions, to bridge the polarization that is taking place and to better understand each other's perspectives," McAvoy told The Baltimore Sun.

Additionally,  high school social studies teachers in Baltimore County wrote sample lesson plans this summer about the recent controversy over the removal of Confederate monuments in Baltimore. Teachers included documents that represented both sides of the issue.

McAvoy said while this balance is important, "Schools in a democratic society should not be neutral to the values of the democratic society." These values include individual liberty, freedom of speech and religious freedom. 

Read the full article on The Baltimore Sun website: "At Maryland high schools, teaching empathy in a time of controversy."

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