A guide to challenging conversations

Navigating issues-based discussions in the classroom can be challenging, especially when the issue or topic encourages different perspectives.

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This resource provides strategies that are flexible and adaptable, taking into account teaching context, the age of the students, appropriateness of the topic, the depth of discussion, as well as school and community expectations. These strategies also acknowledge perspectives that may be informed by students’ lived experiences, including family or community views and values.

The skills students learn from having challenging conversations are important in developing their critical and creative thinking, but also help to develop opportunities for student voice and agency.

This resource can be used across year levels and curricula, including Civics and Citizenship, History and English, but it can also be used in any classroom that is engaging in discussion or debate. 

  • This resource can be adapted and used across multiple year levels and multiple subject areas, especially when exploring complex topics or issues. Within the Victorian curriculum: Civics and Citizenship the resource addresses many aspects of the Diversity and Identity strand from Grades 3 to Year 10, and also connects to the Law and Government strands through the use issues-based examples and case-studies of the law-making process.

    The issues-based discussions also have connections to Victorian curriculum: History and Victorian curriculum: English, and can also be used to explore issues across any VCE subject where discussion-based exploration of issues is appropriate. There are also a range of Capabilities that students develop through engaging with contemporary and Challenging issues, these have also been summarised below, according to the Capability strand.