Exploring Controversial Issues in the Primary Social Studies Classroom, pp. 6 of 12

Although participants pointed out many interesting parallels between their lives and the story, such as academic tracking in primary schools, there was one exchange between students that stood out in particular (names are pseudonyms):

Bert:    I think it’s not good that Sikkal provides everything for its citizens. It’s like how our Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) encourages the poor to remain lazy.

Bob:    My family depends on FAS to get by. We are not lazy. My dad is trying very hard to find a job. Even with FAS, my family still struggles to get by. I would not mind living in Sikkal. At least I will not have to worry what is going to happen tomorrow.

Ms. Mimosa: Thank you for sharing, Bob. How are you feeling now?

Bob:    A little sad and misunderstood.

Ms. Mimosa: Bert, do you have anything to share after hearing from Bob?

Bert:    I didn’t know he was an FAS student. I’m sorry for saying things that I don’t know much about. I really didn’t mean to upset anyone.

Ms. Mimosa: It’s okay. We are all learning. I’m so proud of the both of you!

The above snippet of Ms. Mimosa’s interaction with students is reflective of her broader approach across all lessons. Her classroom activities do not focus on students discerning or assigning blame on any characters. Rather, she makes a conscious effort to encourage students to consider different points of view through the skillful use of open-ended questions, like how she navigated the sharing by both Bert and Bob. In doing so, she modeled to her students how to build consensus and mutual respect for differences through conflict dialogue.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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