Friends magazine, Fall 2017

Page 6

query heard, but it allows students to engage with these ideas without having to endorse them. Students often fear that they will be judged by their classmates for voicing a minority perspective, so this gives them a cover to do so in the form of a role-play. The last approach draws on my own discipline of social psychology. I spend some time in all of my classes talking about motivated reasoning, how everyone is susceptible to it, and how this can lead people to have a (false) sense of superiority about their views. This gets students to reflect on their own reasoning, question their assumptions, and consider how their own biases affect their perceptions of the world. This last technique is handy outside the classroom as well — I regularly use it with my colleagues and at dinner parties. No approach is perfect, but modeling intellectual curiosity and openness to ideas is a really important part of my job. And it’s something I learned by watching my own teachers and mentors through the years, starting at Friends. Kaitlin Toner Raimi ’02, is an assistant professor at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

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It would be superb if teaching at a Quaker institution made this question moot. Those unfamiliar with Quaker education may imagine peace and tranquility govern our campuses, and we all wear gray garb and Earth Shoes. Perhaps they believe, as my own parents and siblings suppose, that I teach in a stronghold of liberalism, where alternative viewpoints wither and die, and people always talk using library voices. However, few communities are monolithic entities where all members hold the same convictions on all subjects. This community is no exception. Because caring and passionate humans fill our community, when we deliberate issues that concern us deeply, our emotions and tempers may flare. What steps can we take to stimulate participation in healthy, robust, and respectful discourse from all quarters without breeding fear and anger? From the moment students enter our orbit, we must model and teach civility as well as the Quaker belief that God lives in all of us. We must train students to collaborate, to compromise, to listen, and to show respect for each other’s ideas from day one, and expose them to adults doing the same. Setting ground rules that compel courtesy

Artist’s Viewpoint I was inspired by Cleveland

and appeal for open minds and Cavaliers basketball player Kyrie Irving. He said many hearts will help. Allowing children times that he thought the to submit opinions anonymously, world was flat and so having them create and conduct I made this in response. polls electronically, and reading It changed the way I made their papers to the class without this sculpture because I giving names are popular strategies imagined the Earth spinning for keeping classrooms safe and on a finger like a basketball. So my sculpture is able to positive. As students develop spin on its base. confidence, comfort, and talent, —Alexander Raynes ’18 they need frequent participation in organized debates in which they must defend their assertions. We have to demonstrate that it is possible to agree to disagree, and it is safe to do so. Including students on panels, in discussions, and in all facets of decision making whenever possible will further develop the skills of civility, respect, and compromise that seem so lacking today. Deloris Jones has taught social studies in the Middle School at Friends for 35 years.

“ I spend some time in all of my classes talking about motivated reasoning, how everyone is susceptible to it, and how this can lead people to have a (false) sense of superiority about their views.” —Kaitlin Toner Raimi ’02



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