Civil Discourse

Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities

Joe Schmidt ,

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Civil Discourse: Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities

About the eBook

Build civil discourse with courage, understanding, belonging, and empathy.

Discomfort lies at the heart of all learning and growth, especially concerning discussions on difficult and complex topics like climate change, slavery, and police brutality. This book presents ways to help teachers become strong facilitators—not endorsers—of contentious conversations to promote a stronger sense of community.

There are four themes that arise when exploring civil discourse: courage, understanding, belonging, and empathy. This book is organized around these themes, each chapter providing resources for educators to teach the skills of discourse with:

  • How-to tips for bringing work beyond the classroom
  • Chapter checklists to guide progress and assess learning
  • Exploration of different types of discourse (dialogue, discussion, debate) and when to use each
  • Steps for preparing a classroom for contentious conversations
  • Activities to practice discourse and disagreement

Addressing the problem of how to have politically and emotionally charged conversations in the classroom, this book guides 6-12 educators – particularly teachers of history, civics, ELA, and other social studies and humanities disciplines -- in facilitating discussions based on fact, intellectual reasoning, and mutual respect.

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