Donnetta, this is a complex discussion. How to allow for an honest political response from students that may have deeply ingrained ideologies and facilitate the group into genuine, respectful, and deep…
I do not know if I am going in a reasonable direction with this. Please: added thoughts to this thread.
I can understand where you are going, and I think you hit on some exact barriers to "real" discussion. But I don't know how to break through. If I could get kids to a place where they would actually let…
He who cannot reason is a fool; he who will not is a bigot; he who dare not is a slave. - W. Drummond
These are huge challenges, but for me, part of what I perceive as my charge is to help kids become intellectually humble rather than intellectually arrogant. That implies that, even though we may know something about a topic, we need to be ready to fully listen to other points of view and then do some claim testing to ascertain what it is that we believe. This is an even more difficult task when we try to instill this type of academic curiosity in students that are egocentric and sociocentric, so have little empathy due to their developmental stages, but we move mountains and make miracles every day with our students. I have used materials from the Critical Thinking Foundation to help guide me in how to create better opportunities for discussion and to overtly help kids to understand how to become better critical thinkers, writers, etc. Check out their guides via their bookstore linked above, they are easy to digest, implement, and inexpensive to buy.
"Is the picture your are projecting right for everyone?" I like that. There are some students who will admit that not everyone deserves "right". So, "What are the outcomes of your thinking?" is a great follow up. They must then examine why they think it's OK for some people and groups not to have "what's right".
OK. So this helps the student do an inner search.
What about those students who hear this and are horrified. It would take a lot for a student to admit ingrained prejudice. Will regular classroom norms protect this student from reactions? I can see where getting to this deepest level of the "underbelly" is not an early-in-the-year discussion.
As always, Scott, thanks for your insights.
These discussions do not happen overnight. Students need to trust the class and your intentions. This comes from using the big questions as a guide to every discussion. Start small and then build out in intensity. You will feel the trust build. Students that are hesitant to speak should get a notebook to jot their ideas and offer to share their thoughts from the notebook for them. Eventually they will step forward and speak.
This is where it helps to be guided by the largest questions possible. These keep you on track and to keep the students on track to deeply look at their own thinking. For this particular discussion the students are struggling with justice and power- the political questions. To ask what is the goal of the students in their political thinking, is their an enemy and what form of government would best reach their goals. This is where the class will see what the underbelly is and realize the depth of what lies below. More importantly though is the question of ethics- is what they are projecting right for everyone and if not, what is the outcome of their thinking? This really challenges student thinking as they are forced to think through the human side of their political positions.
I can understand where you are going, and I think you hit on some exact barriers to "real" discussion. But I don't know how to break through. If I could get kids to a place where they would actually let themselves consider the possibility of another view being more "acceptable" than their own, then I think that they could have a profound inner search.
But I'm afraid that I can't let myself consider the possibility that some of those deeply ingrained ideologies could be correct. When I'm going into it with an acknowledged bias is it possible for me to lead?