While this page is under construction, I'll explain what I think is the best way to teach the history issues that will be controversial at the school. You can also see my working list of citations that I will use to give the more in-depth explanation once I write it.
1. Create an online, moderated wiki for the general public to develop the history curriculum.
- It will have the capacity to store primary-source and secondary-source documents that historians - both profesisonal and amateur - can upload and use to assert their points.
- The wiki will have an indefinite number of rows for time periods, in which each one can be continually split into more rows depending on the amount of content. As for the columns, the wiki will only two, each being the width of half of the computer screen. Editing privileges will be granted to each userto only one half of the screen or the other half of the screen, permanently, but all viewers can read both sides. Each column represents the history of one of the two political sides across the millenia. You can write for your side, or choose to write false things for the other side, but in each case, the majority of that side's users will decide what will be the final consensus for the story in that time period for that side.
- There will be a toggle button for language, so if one side is written in Greek, for example, and the other side's column is in Turkish, you can click the Greek, English, or Turkish button to read both columns in your language.
2. The only new students at the school each year will be two-year-olds (or perhaps three-year-olds). For example, in the first year of the school, there will just be a class of two-year-olds. There are many reasons for this, but one is that it will let the students have ten years of a supplemental "social-emotional learning" curriculum before they start discussing emotionally sensitive history issues in class. There are special curricula for this, with a deep pool of existing scholarly research, that start with subject content for two-year-olds and then spiral up in complexity each year to students' last year at the secondary level.
Social-emotional learning, commonly referred to as SEL, helps students a) become more aware of their emotions, b) more aware of others' emotions, c) regulate their emotions, and d) regulate others' emotions.
These four skills together are known as "emotional intelligence," and thus SEL is also known as "emotional-intelligence education" as well as "conflict-resolution education" (CRE). Several existing curricula of this kind have been shown to help raise test scores in all subjects by way of improving each student's emotional regulation skills (their delay of gratification). See my working list of citations for the existing research on this.
Learning to regulate their emotions will help them express their disagreements in a constructive fashion and listen better to others. These skills will be essential once they start discussing controversial history issues.
3. The method used to teach the controversial issues should be a method called Constructive Controversy, also known as Structured Academic Controversy, Academic Controversy, Structured Controversy, Creative Controversy, and simply Controversy. Google it, and look for it on Youtube. Here are the procedures and a two-page rubric.
It is essentially the same as a traditional debate, except halfway through, the students have toswitch sides and argue just as passionately for the other side. Part of their grade comes from how well and passionately (and dramatically) they argue for each side, and another part comes from how well they listen to their counterpart. The bulk of their score comes from their own essay afterwards in which they say which side they believe in more and why; they must use logic and existing evidence (the primary and secondary sources) to back up their points. It doesn't matter which side they pick in their essay as long as their opinion is well-reasoned.
Constructive Controversy has been shown via educational research to have more educational benefits (cognitive, social, and emotional) than regular debates. Students remember a lot more of the points from each side's position, unlike a regular debate in which students usually just remember the points for the side for which they argued. See my working list of citations for the pool of scholarly research that supports this teaching method.
4. Here is the chronological sequence for opening the students to this teaching method and to the controversial issues.
- Around the age of 11, students will use Constructive Controversy to debate a subjective question that has zero actual controversy to it. For example, "Is it better to live in the mountains or by the sea?" Or, "Is it more important to have chocolate or vanilla ice cream in your freezer?" This helps them get acquainted with the method without their emotions getting overly involved.
- By the next year, they can use this method for analyizing topics in science, in literature class (discussing if a character's weaknesses outweighed his strengths), and for history topics about other regions of the world in which each side for the topic is not too controversial. Students may not have the maturity yet to argue that it was right to kill tens of thousands of more people in order to end a war (as with the atomic bomb), etc.
- By age 14, they can discuss history topics that are very controversial in other parts of the world. For example, students in The Cypriot School might use the Constructive Controversy method to argue about who started the Korean War, the North or the South, and how the Kashmir situation should be resolved between India and Pakistan.
- By ages 15-16, they can discuss controversial history topics for their home region that occurred over 100 years ago, and for which there are no remaining survivors. The topics chosen would depend on the disagreements collected by the general public in the wiki in Step 1.
- Lastly, in their final two years of school, they can use the Constructive Controversy method to discuss the inflammatory events for their region in the last 100 years. Again, their grade would depend not on which side they agreed with in their essay but on how well-reasoned their written conclusions are.
In the case of Cyprus, these history lessons would have to be integrated into a history curriculum that would have to meet the requirements for students taking entrance examinations for the universities in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe.