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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Afraid to teach: 'It's safer to avoid current events'


Polarization is chilling classroom dialogue, according to a series of interviews with teachers by the Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI), reports Jake Fay, the group's education director.


Teachers are nervous about leading classroom discussions for fear of criticism from both the right and the left, and name-calling among students, he writes. “It just became safer to just avoid current events altogether, even if it was something major,” one educator reported.

Another teacher said: “I hate to admit this, but I’ve been starting to walk away from discussion in my classroom. I’ve been doing more and more ‘Watch the video, read the book, answer the questions, wait for the bell, leave my classroom.’”

Teachers "can help their students develop the mindsets and skills they need to navigate differences of opinion and belief," writes Fay. He offers suggestions on how to foster constructive conversations.


For example, "ask questions to understand" -- not to judge or trap. "Questions that invite someone to share something meaningful, reflect genuine curiosity, or seek out the nuances of someone else’s perspective can create possibilities to connect and lead to meaningful responses."


I'd add: Listen.

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6 Comments


obiwandreas
Aug 15, 2023

I've always been of the opinion that current events should take up an absolutely minimal class time. The fundamental task of the school is to build the historical and civic background knowledge necessary to analyze historical events in context. Without that, any discussion devolves into mere bloviating.

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Guest
Aug 15, 2023

Congratulations on doing your part to spread the anti-teacher flames.

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Guest
Aug 14, 2023

Have class time where the class has to argue for the position they personally oppose. Make students understand the other side, and not merely reject them as evil and threatening.

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Guest
Aug 16, 2023
Replying to

That controversy was started because some tournaments had the judges post their own scouting report. Winning and losing formal debates has always depends on the biases of the judges. Now the students will now what to say and not say or how to frame their arguments to play to or avoid the judges biases.

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