Class Divide: When Students Resist Material for Ideological Reasons, Start from Where They Are

Finding areas of common ground with those whose beliefs differ from mine, taking their concerns seriously without compromising the experience and training that put me at the front of the classroom in the first place, prompted me to use a new range of historical examples and improved my ability to engage my students. Sometimes bad and even dangerous ideas need to be confronted and refuted in the classroom, and we should not shy away from doing this when necessary. But we should first ask if such situations might be opportunities to develop arguments that bridge previously disconnected viewpoints. The vast array of historical examples we might draw on makes this approach more accessible to us than to other educators, and by embracing it we may add an additional technique to help us break down dichotomies, foster critical thinking, and encourage responsible citizenship.
— Charles Upchurch