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Dialogue and Deliberation versus Debate

Hello colleagues, I just heard a journalist speak the other day about "solutions journalism." She was talking about the ways journalist could present controversial topics in a way that suggests possible solutions rather than simply describing the polarization that exists. I thought this different emphasis sounded promising given the many controversies that surrounding us these days. If you are interested in learning more, you can check out the Solutions Journalism Network.

As a teacher, focusing on viable solutions and consensus building on controversial topics has always been of great interest to me since I want learners to think deeply about issues and to dialogue respectfully with one another. I believe respectful dialogue is essential to a civil society.  A wonderful new Teaching Channel video and blog states that  "...dialogue is essential to maintaining a healthy democracy and is a key aspect of civic and political life."

This video and blog describe a process for engaging students in conversations called "Structured Academic Controversy: A Strategy for Civic Discussion." The process engages students in dialogue and deliberation rather than debate. You can find links to some useful instructional resources that explain the process step-by-step.  For instance, the 14 Principles of Democracy on the Deliberating in a Democracy in the Americas website might be a great tool to use in an expert jigsaw activity.

Lesson topics on the site include: cloning, euthanasia, crime and punishment, educating non citizens, domestic violence, climate change, cyberbullying, and many others.

I'm eager to try out the Structured Academic Controversy process in my own class. 

Let us know your thoughts!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP