Current controversial issues in history classrooms: Two high school teachers' practices and views

Eytan Justin Apter, Fordham University


The teaching of current controversial issues is important for creating students who are critical thinkers, tolerant of multiple viewpoints, and poised to be active citizens in today’s democracy. Yet, little is understood about what is done in a content-rich history class. The purpose of this study is to understand how two high school United States history teachers connect current controversial issues in their classes and what factors influence the teachers’ decision making. Over the course of one academic year, I conducted interviews with participants, observed classes in which current controversial issues were taught, engaged in an email dialogue with each participant, and collected documents including lesson and unit plans. Using case study methodology, I analyzed the data to develop themes to describe the practices and views of these two participants. The research found that the participants’ views of the purpose of the history class and curriculum factored heavily into their decisions. Other factors, including student ability, teaching experience, support from colleagues, lesson time, and reinforcement from experts, influenced each participant differently. What resulted were two different approaches that stemmed from each participant’s own understanding of the requirements of the class, the definition of current controversial issues, and the degree to which issues needed to be connected to the history.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Social studies education

Recommended Citation

Apter, Eytan Justin, "Current controversial issues in history classrooms: Two high school teachers' practices and views" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10145770.