A few days ago, I wrote a post about a particular student, "Anne," coming to grips with a very difficult topic to discuss...evolution.
Even though I was only the substitute teacher for the day, I gave them a homework assignment asking them to reflect on the discussion. You can read their responses if you're interested.
Back to "Anne." Her response was actually very short compared to the rest of the class, but again, I think it has profound depth despite its conciseness:
Yesterday, in Biology, I learned to get out of my narrow mind and think about evolution. I began to actually question my beliefs. It was challenging but a good experience. Questioning myself isn't something I do regularly; I felt like yesterdays discussion was important. Whenever people ask me about my faith, I can never really answer them. I always grew up learning that God created everything. Yesterday, I learned that I will never know unless my faith grows. The discussion helped me a lot. I am still a nonbeliever in evolution.
The depth of her thoughts really stood out as she recognized that questioning her own beliefs aren't something she does regularly...but who really does?
As teachers, we should be pushing students to think about hard topics. We need to remind them that the world is not cut-and-dry nor black and white by any means. How often, though, do we provide those opportunities? Or even worse, how often do we see those opportunities and move past them in lieu of getting more content in?
Let's not do our students a disservice by moving past the tough discussion to get more content in. While it may be especially difficult with state tests and mandated benchmarks for students, it is not something we can afford to drop if we want to provide quality education for all students.