New education materials on how to teach and deal with controversy

Strasbourg 28 January 2021

Learning how to engage in dialogue with and respect people whose values are different from one’s own is central to the democratic process and to fostering of a culture of human rights.

Yet in Europe young people do not often have an opportunity to discuss controversial issues in school because they are seen as too challenging. Controversy is contextual in nature, and this is precisely why dealing with it is not straightforward. Issues considered controversial by some may not appear so to others.

Developing a capacity to deal with controversial issues must be at the heart of an effective education for democracy. This goal is the basis for these new CoE materials developed by educators throughout Europe.

The “Living with controversy” toolkit is a valuable pack of instruments for education professionals developed with the joint EU/CoE project Democratic and Inclusive School in Operation (DISCO). They include:

Teaching Controversial Issues Through Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights (EDC/HRE) suggests ways in which these challenges may be met, identifies the professional competences required and makes recommendations for the development of activities in all educational settings, from the pre-primary to the tertiary levels, and across all subjects.

To view and download the PDF click here, to order the hardcopy visit our bookstore at this link.

Managing Controversy – Developing a strategy for handling controversy and teaching controversial issues in schools, a self-reflection tool for school leaders and senior managers designed to support reflection on the way controversy is handled in schools.

To view and download the PDF click here, to order the hardcopy visit our bookstore at this link.

Learning How to Handle Controversial Issues in Schools and Other Education Settings. A Good Practice Guide: Using the Manuals Teaching Controversial Issues and Managing Controversy, capturing the rich learning that has emerged over past years from the trainings that took place across Europe.

To view and download the PDF click here, to order the hardcopy visit our bookstore at this link.


The new self-learning course The Key to Dealing with Controversial Issues is now available on the CoE’s LEMON (Learning Modules Online) platform, and provides an effective tool to manage controversy. With this 2-hour course, learners will find out what makes an issue controversial, why it is important to deal with controversial issues in educational environments, and what strategies education professionals can devise to handle them effectively in the classroom. The course targets education professionals but is also open to the general public. It is offered free of charge upon simple registration on the online learning platform.