While a number of debating tools are used in education, these traditional means do not specifically tackle current topics, and moreover, being as they are based on reasoned and tempered debating, they fail to recognize the emotional ramifications of sensitive issues. The need for tools that can accomplish this was demonstrated by the fact that, in recent years, controversial events and issues have provoked educators to independently put together recommendations to help their colleagues discuss difficult topics in the classroom.
Identifying this gap, the Foundation developed the Embracing Controversy project, centered on the question of how teachers can be prepared and supported to handle such topics in a constructive way, transforming controversial subjects into learning opportunities.
We launched three pilot projects in Belgium, France, and Poland for (future) teachers and educators on how to debate with students on sensitive and/or controversial topics, taking the different contexts into consideration.
During a European working group meeting organised by the Flemish Peace Institute in May 2019 in collaboration with the Evens Foundation, we exchanged more in-depth about the issue of dealing with controversy and polarisation in educational contexts, sharing knowledge while at the same time exploring similarities and differences between European contexts.