Of Note: Election and Ever After
Talking Across Divides: 10 Ways to Encourage Civil Classroom Conversations
by Katherine Schulten
The New York Times, September 28, 2016
In her excellent article, “Talking Across Divides: 10 Ways to Encourage Civil Classroom Conversations,” Katherine Schulten compiles a rich and informative set of practical resources and ideas for teachers to use in their classrooms as they seek to engage students in difficult conversations about politics, diversity and our divided country. Teachers can, for example, find help in setting classroom norms collaboratively with students and in pushing students to empathize with alternate points of view, focus on civility as a democratic value and pose genuine questions to advance understanding. Of particular note are some of the authentic tasks suggested; for example, a teacher could help students consider the commenting standards used by The New York Times and then ask them to make their own determinations about whether comments meet the standards set by the paper. Additionally, because American consumption of social media often leads to our hearing mostly points of view with which we already agree, Shulten offers ideas for student reflection on how and where they get their news and whether they are inviting a diversity of opinion into their feeds. Teachers will find both inspiration and actual lesson plans in this compelling and useful piece. Though the article is topical, given the imminence of November 8th, 2016, teachers may find the resources here even more necessary in the months after election day.