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Exploring controversial issues and asking big questions is always a challenge, but it’s not something brave classrooms shy away from.
That said, even the most experienced teachers can find fostering productive discussions on certain subjects difficult.
It requires top-quality resourcing with meaningful activities for students to immerse themselves in, with teacher support, tips, links and further information.
This is where CND Peace Education really delivers.
In its newest resource, Critical Mass, students explore how gender, race, identity and marginality are rooted in nuclear issues, by learning from different geographical and historical examples.
It powerfully connects students to the world in which they live and allows them to be democratic, politically engaged and ethical citizens.
Through five extremely well-written lesson plans, Critical Mass draws on various thought-provoking case studies and adopts a variety of teaching and learning approaches, such as discussion, debate, art, role-play, primary sources, poems, annotations, memory games, tug o’ war and communities of enquiry.
These activity frameworks and participatory strategies start a chain reaction that allows students to explore their own values, develop critical-thinking skills and respectful communication, and they are supported by tips to encourage philosophical enquiry in the classroom.
Each lesson contains copious notes, with cracking starters, PowerPoint presentations, main activities, plenaries, ideas for differentiation, suggestions for extension and enrichment. Factual supporting information is also included.
There are some tough topics under discussion too, such as the role gender plays in how we think about strength and security, how people have used their gender as a successful part of their anti-nuclear weapons activism, the difference between victims and survivors and whether anyone has a right to the Earth.
For example, students consider uranium mining in Australia and set up a town meeting to evaluate resource extraction disagreements.
They create art in response to testimony of the ‘Hibakusha’ of Japan and enter into discussions around nuclear legacies, mutually assured destruction and women for peace through video stimulus, photos, songs and book study.
Critical Mass is an accessible, powerful, and memorable pack that promotes learning and complex reasoning, integrated thinking and decision making.
It encourages students to explore and understand opposing points of view about polarising debates and it supports them to make informed choices, stand up for their own rights, and develop a sense of responsibility for others.
This is the best of education for global awareness and prepares students for the responsibilities of active citizenship by developing skills and dispositions to engage in democratic practices through active involvement in them.
These volatile times call for helping teachers learn how to promote constructive discussions of charged issues with their classes, and these are just the resources to do it.
You are looking for a resource that enables students to develop a critical consciousness and understand real people’s lived experience, identity, diversity and the global issues that impact on us all.
For further information head to the Critical Mass website and cnduk.org/education, and click here to order your free teacher resource pack.
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