Remaining Open

During a dynamic and authentic discussion with students, there is bound to be a wide range of viewpoints. Some students may express opinions that conflict with our own or our school’s deeply held values. When students share opinions that run counter to the very goals of our discussion, this can be challenging.

As adults, we need to be aware of our internal reactions in order to have clarity about our power and its use. Imposing our own values or opinions will very likely shut down discussion. Students may feel betrayed if they expected they could share openly then were stifled or contradicted when they did so.

We can respond with questions that encourage reflection and exchanges among students. When students respectfully challenge or disagree with their peers, this facilitates character development through empowerment, promoting skill-building and critical thinking.