Outschool classes should be objective, secular, and age-appropriate. We have adopted this policy so that Outschool classes can be relevant to the widest audience, and so parents can participate in any Outschool class knowing they will not be subjected to a teacher's personal religious or political beliefs, or other objectionable content. We limit classes in certain sensitive areas that are detailed further below.
Classes should be secular:
- Do not promote a specific religion or religious point of view.
- Present facts, ideas, and theories that are grounded in science and accepted by the preponderance of experts in a field.
Of course, many classes need to address religion - for example, you can't teach history without talking about religion. It's critical to teach about religion, but to not promote or advocate a particular religious worldview.
Classes should be objective and accurate:
- Classes should be based on fact and evidence.
- Present classes using an unbiased perspective, to the extent possible.
- Acknowledge and present multiple viewpoints that exist on many social, political, and historical issues.
- Do not use classes as a soapbox for personal viewpoints.
- Text, images and content should not be sensationalized. Classes should not be designed to provoke an emotional response at the expense of accuracy.
In the course of class discussion, students may raise questions about a teacher's personal viewpoints. In most cases, you should aim to deflect or redirect the question, rather than allowing your personal belief to influence students.
Classes should be age-appropriate:
- Material that may be disturbing to young children should be highlighted in the class description
- Material that may be objectionable to parents should be made clear - for example, topics are violent or sexual in nature, or that touch on sensitive political questions
In addition, Outschool classes may not promote discrimination, hate speech, or violence. Outschool welcomes learners, families, and teachers across all pillars of diversity; this includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, and gender identity.
Teachers and classes that do not abide by these standards will be removed from Outschool.
Sensitive or higher-risk topics
There are classes that are not allowed on the platform, or are subject to higher scrutiny, because of their sensitive or potentially controversial nature.
For these topic areas we require the teacher to have training and/or experience teaching the topic to young learners.
- Mental health and wellness
- Physical health, medicine, and drugs
- Sex education
- Experiences of marginalized groups
- Nutrition and Diet
We have additional requirements for the following types of classes.
We do not support classes that provide medical training or medical services. This includes, but is not limited to, first aid, CPR, therapy, counseling, psychiatric evaluations, or evaluations for special education services. We do not offer these classes on Outschool out of concern for learners’ safety and well-being. We recognize that many classes can touch on these subjects, so we have provided some clarifying examples below:
- Classes offering workouts or exercise routines are allowed, but classes offering physical therapy are considered medical services.
- Classes teaching general information about nutrition or a type of diet (eg. What is veganism?) are allowed, but classes with targeted nutrition advice to learners are considered medical services and require more expertise. They may not be appropriate for the Outschool platform. All class subject matter must be science/fact based, and not promote any single perspective on nutrition and diet. For example, teaching what Vitamin D does for your body would be okay for someone with a basic understanding, but teaching how to get enough Vitamin D requires additional expertise. Any class promoting weight loss is not allowed on Outschool.
- Classes offering information about mental health or non-medical symptom management strategies are allowed, but classes offering individual or group therapy targeted towards learners with diagnosed medical conditions, trauma, or grief are considered a medical service. For example, classes offering techniques to handle day-to-day stress or anxiety are allowed, but classes offering therapeutic support specifically for learners suffering from chronic anxiety or anxiety disorders would be a medical service. Social support groups, such as for military children or learners with other shared experience, are not usually considered a medical service but will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as a sensitive/experts only topic.
Classes that present a higher risk for potential safety hazards will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Examples include, but are not limited to, classes on swimming, driving, or wilderness survival techniques. For classes that are appropriate for the platform, we will require teachers to have a high level of professional training, expertise, or experience working with youth in the subject. Additionally, we require teachers to provide extensive parental guidance information.
Pseudoscience and supernatural topics
For topics that may be considered pseudoscience or supernatural in nature, material should be presented from a scientific and secular perspective.
Pseudoscience, supernatural, or paranormal topics can include any topics that are not agreed upon by a preponderance of experts, explanations for phenomena that are not well supported by research, or any topics that have their basis in folklore or superstition, but are not supported by the scientific community. Example topics can include - but are not limited to - essential oil treatments, crystal healing, the law of attraction, ghosts, astrology, fortune-telling, or extraterrestrial beings.
Topics in these categories generally have a basis in history, culture, or speculation. As such, they should not be presented as fact, but rather explored from a cultural or historical perspective. Descriptions should make clear that the approach is based on mainstream science, culture, or history, rather than promoting these topics as scientific truth or as part of a supernatural worldview.
Marginalized groups of people include groups who have historically been overlooked or who have faced discrimination based on factors including, but not limited to, sex, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Outschool believes that classes based on these groups and topics deserve equal treatment and, occasionally, special consideration. In order to ensure that Outschool is not spreading false narratives nor reinforcing discrimination and prejudice, Outschool has higher expectations and scrutiny for evaluating these classes and the teachers who lead them. We would expect to see expertise in areas like education, community involvement, life experience, additional training or other things that might show expertise based on the marginalized group you are teaching about.
Expectations for these classes:
- Teachers have a degree connected to the topic they are teaching or additional training/education related to the topic.
- The sources used in class need to come from widely respected scholars/professionals in the field.
- The Class Experience section of the class’s description will need to contain an explanation of any resources that deal with racism and discrimination and include how those will be handled.
Outschool requires that content on Outschool be objective. Teaching the history and experiences of these marginalized groups leads to content being more objective: objectivity gives a more complete picture than has been traditionally told or studied. To counter the traditional narrative, more focus may be given to these groups in some classes and there may be classes entirely devoted to these specific groups or their experiences. Other perspectives must still be acknowledged so that the full story of the issue in question is taught.
Outschool understands the value of role-playing in education. Allowing students to take various perspectives and make decisions or solve crises helps students understand the concepts and learn empathy for those involved. Role-playing can include events or situations that are hypothetical or historical and any activity from acting out a situation like a play to making decisions based on historical text or hypothetical situations.
When creating class listings that include role-playing, there are certain things that Outschool will look for and that the teacher will need to consider:
- Be sure there is time before the lesson to pre-teach any important information and lay out the parameters for the role-playing. Consider how you will approach any students that do not follow those parameters.
- If students are role-playing various perspectives, they may only really learn the one they play. Consider how you can ensure they learn numerous different perspectives.
- Ensure that there is ample time set aside after the role-playing to discuss any situations that arose that may need extra discussion or clarification, come back to the larger context and purpose of the role play, and to tie up any loose ends.
Some topics are so sensitive that they fall outside of Outschool policies if they are role-played. Each class listing that includes role-playing will be evaluated with higher scrutiny as follows:
Role-playing scenarios NOT allowed:
- Scenarios that have kids play oppressor/oppressed roles
- Examples: prison guard/prisoner, plantation owner/slave, S.S. guard/Concentration Camp internee.
- Any group being depicted as superior or inferior
- Role-playing violence
- Role-playing marginalized groups in any way that is not empowering
- Anything in bad taste or in violation of our class standards or other Outschool policies.
Role-play that will face higher scrutiny, but may be acceptable:
- Not acting, but taking perspectives of various groups to understand a complex problem.
- Example 1: Solving global warming and students taking the role of industries that emit carbon, environmental groups, government officials, citizens from different viewpoints.
- Example 2: Students take the role of various cabinet members and advise the president regarding a historical decision: Should the US have used the atomic bomb? How do we get American hostages freed in the Iran Hostage Crisis?
- Kids simulate a process like an assembly line, passing a law, making financial decisions. mimic an artist’s craft, learning the Charleston, etc.
- Trials, hypothetical or historical, will be considered based on the content.
If you have any questions about a topic you would like to teach, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to help.