The Lyme School •  Lyme, New Hampshire
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Policy Manual

Policy: IKB
Teaching of Controversial Issues

The ability to deal reasonably with different points of view is essential to intelligent participation in a free and open society.

In a public school system in a democratic society, academic freedom includes the freedom of the teacher to present controversial issues and to make avail¬able to the students a wide range of instructional materials and community resources. Professional judgment must be made in determining the appropriateness of the issue to the curriculum and the maturity of the students.

Academic freedom in the instructional program also implies responsibilities. The teacher should seek to promote intelligent study based upon a broad range of ideas to be discovered and developed through reading, listening, viewing and discussion. Recognizing that resources used in the classroom often will reflect a particular point of view, the teacher should strive by the use of additional resources to present a fair balance of ideas so that the students have full opportunity to investigate and consider various positions and to draw intelligent conclusions.

Academic freedom extends to students as well as teachers. Students must be free to pursue independent study and to make use of resources beyond those in the classroom. Moreover, if a student or parent has deep-seated moral, personal, or religious beliefs which make an item in the instructional program objectionable the student must be permitted to pursue an alternative program in accordance with established procedures.

The public school is a unique community institution charged with the task of guiding each new generation to responsible maturity. Young people must have the opportunity to develop their powers of discovery, perception, understanding, and judgment, assisted and encouraged by teachers and administrators committed to the principle that these powers are best nurtured by free and open inquiry.

In the presentation of all controversial issues, every effort will be made to consider divergent points of view, and provide opportunity for exploration by the students into all sides of the issue.

ADOPTED: 17 March 1983