Youth Voices LIVE! How do we disagree?
I want to invite teachers to help organize and support students who are using Youth Voices to get together a couple of times each month around a Big Question. This month's is: How do we disagree?
Students should plan to join a Hangout On Line in two successive weeks. For example the week of February 15 (Week One) and February 22 (Week Two).
This month, I will moderate, then I'd like to toss this to students to do each month. To structure our conversations, let's use Ask Big Question's AIR-IT: A GUIDE TO FACILITATING CONVERSATION.
In the first (of two) Hangouts, we will "Invite Personal Stories" of each of the students on the call. This month, for example we will:
ASK AND SHARE
Let’s take a moment to introduce ourselves.
Please think of one person in your life with whom you currently, or in the past, have seriously disagreed. Take a moment, and then we will all share our names, who we thought of, and maybe say a word or two about why we thought of that person.
In the second Hangout (each month) we will "Use Interpretive Things," a text, poem, artwork, or song, that students can annotate together on NowComment in the days or weeks between Hangouts. This "interpretive thing" will help "to center the conversation and create a common point of access for all participants." This month for example we will focus Youth Voices LIVE! on two short texts from the Talmud. On the second call we will read and talk about the following material together, then move to a Socratic Seminar about the Talmud texts:
There are a lot of hot-button issues in our world today, a lot of things about which people disagree vociferously, and sometimes viciously. Rhetoric in the media, online, and in person around topics like abortion, immigration, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and gun control can devolve quickly into inflammatory statements and personal attacks that leave all parties feeling angry and frustrated.
But, of course, it doesn't have to be that way. Voltaire famously said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” And even more than the right to speak, perhaps there’s something even to be gleaned through disagreements; as 19th century British women’s rights activist Annie Bessant put it, “Quick condemnation of views with which we disagree… is the sign of a narrow mind…The wise boy, who will become the wise man, tries to understand and to see truth in ideas with which he does not agree.”
In real life, of course, this can be tricky. In conflict, issues of truth and justice may feel as though they are—or may really be—on the line, and we often feel not only intellectually, but also emotionally invested in the outcome of a debate. But if we can find a way to disagree well, it might just open up new possibilities and clear the way for unexpected outcomes.
[Sometime between the first and second Hangouts in February, students should follow the AskBigQs tab on the Youth Voices homepage, then follow the links to February's Question. There they will find and they should annotate in NowComment] two texts from different parts of the Talmud, the major corpus of Rabbinic law and culture in the Jewish tradition, edited around 500 C.E. (the first text) and 200 C.E. (the second text), respectively. They tell the story of the academies of Hillel and Shammai, two different schools and ideological camps that thrived in the first century of the Common Era.
Though they disagreed, at times profoundly, about how Jewish law should be decided, they managed those disagreements in fruitful ways.
On the second February Youth Voices LIVE! Hangout, I will facilitate the conversation as a socratic seminar or a "collaborative, intellectual dialogue facilitated with open-ended questions about a text." In this case, during the second Hangout in February, the question we will be asking is "How do we disagree?" and we will be talking about these two texts from the Talmud. Students who we can get to facilitate these Hangouts in March should study these materials about facilitating Ask Big Questions and Socratic Seminars.
In my back pocket, during the second February Youth Voices LIve! Hangout, I'll also have these questions from from Ask Big Questions to refer to. Students might also use these to prepare for the second call:
As we reflect on these texts, here are a few questions to consider:
- Why does the Heavenly voice declare that the academy of Hillel’s rulings were more in line with Jewish law?
- How do the academy of Hillel and the academy of Shammai’s disagreements impact their relationships?
- What’s the significance of their “not refraining from preparing things requiring a state of purity by using things from the other side?”
When was a time when you acted like the academy of Hillel in a disagreement? When was a time that you didn’t? Why didn’t you? Are there times when the academy of Hillel model isn’t appropriate in a disagreement? What are different tactics that people use to disagree, and when should they be used? How do you hope to disagree with others? How do you hope that they will disagree with you?
Source: Ask Big Questions: How do we disagree?
What do I have to do to have my students participate?
The idea here is that it should be easy for you to get a small group of students ready for the first Hangout. We should do it sometime this week--the week of February 15. All you need to do is find a time, let me know by commenting on this post, and and have your students START to think about the question, "How do we disagree? by just reading through the resources available at http://youthvoices.net/howdowedisagree. Again this is available by following the February image and link under the AskBigQs tab on the Youth Voices Home Page.
Let's start there. I have a break this week in NYC for President's week. I won't have students, but I'll be happy to facilitate this for your students if you think you can get a few up and ready on a Hangout On Air sometime this week.
LET ME KNOW WHEN you think you can have students ready for a Hangout On Air THIS WEEK by adding a comment here, and I'll coordinate with other teachers.