Practicing Dissent in Our Democratic Republic

Teaching student to engage in civil discourse on social media in positive and productive ways while reinforcing the ideals of free speech.

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Our students have few models for rich civil discourse.  Part of being a good citizen, digitally or otherwise, is understanding how to engage in disagreement without being disagreeable.  In light of the recent protests and school walkouts, the use of social media becomes essential to understanding how to present one's perspective without resorting to ad hominem attacks on those who may not agree with them.  This is a foundational skill for all citizens in countries which value free speech and the free exchange of ideas.  

Share insights you heard during your empathy work.

Several of my middle school students approached me, disappointed in the reaction of their classmates when they participated in the recent school walk out, honoring victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting. Like many students, they have strong opinions about the need for change. However, they were met with many opposing points of view and few strategies for dealing with them. I want our students to understand the nature of dissent and the importance of a willingness to listen.

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