Typically, all teaching is challenging but this challenge becomes most apparent when it involves controversy. Teaching invites the process of experiencing the connection between oneself and the “other.” It is also the expression of power and cultural control. Customarily, courses are produced to protect and promote particular perspectives, and their meanings are always negotiated among more powerful participants. Courses that refuse to grapple with controversial topics affirm a certain privilege to particular cultural interpretations by supplying experiences from which inferences are quickly drawn. That is why, when the subject of controversy is taught, the teacher runs the risk of being set apart and relegated to the “margins” whenever specific canons of discipline are questioned. For introducing controversy places a teacher in a vulnerable position by acknowledging that the roles exist and need to be examined.
Teaching Controversy draws upon the authors’ own experiences and the experiences of their students. The authors direct us to an approach to teaching controversy while acknowledging the challenges individuals may be confronted with.