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Controversial issues: guidance for schools

7. The importance of citizenship education

A consideration of the issues surrounding the teaching of controversial issues serves only to underline the importance of good citizenship education from an early age.

If children become accustomed to discussing their differences in a rational way in the primary years, they are more likely to accept it as normal in their adolescence.

Citizenship education helps to equip young people to deal with situations of conflict and controversy knowledgeably and tolerantly. It helps to equip them to understand the consequences of their actions, and those of the adults around them.

Pupils learn how to recognize bias, evaluate argument, weigh evidence, look for alternative interpretations, viewpoints and sources of evidence; above all to give good reasons for the things they say and do, and to expect good reasons to be given by others.

Ted Huddleston
Citizenship Foundation

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