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I strongly recommend that educators interested in high-quality discussion as both a form and outcome of pedagogy read Civil Discourse: Classroom
How can schools and teachers prepare our youngest citizens to actively engage in discourse about issues in society? Schmidt and Pinkney’s book
brilliantly explains why discussing contentious issues matters, for both the future of our democracy and student learning, while providing a wealth of practical ideas and resources for teachers. This book couldn’t be more timely and enduring.
Helping young people to learn to discuss contentious issues is one of the most promising ways to strengthen—and even to save—our republic. In
Civil Discourse: Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities, Schmidt and Pinkney provide a scholarly, thoughtful, and also highly practical guide to doing just that. Teachers will find it extraordinarily useful.
Schmidt and Pinkney are seasoned and masterful social studies educators and advocates. They present the topic of civil discourse in a manner that is knowledgeable and approachable. The strategies presented in Civil Discourse: Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities implore educators to be courageous and incorporate these techniques and practices in their classrooms.
Masterful and timely, Schmidt and Pinkney’s Civil Discourse: Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities, is—to paraphrase David McCullough—“a guide [for social studies teachers] to navigation in perilous times.” This brilliantly scaffolded set of practices guides social studies teachers through the often-challenging process of bringing meaningful and constructive civil discourse into the classroom. This is a must-have for your social studies classroom.
Schools can never be culturally neutral terrains devoid of politics. And because of this, educators will continue to grapple with the teaching of potentially contentious topics. We live in a time where students and educators are confronted with political debates, blatant racism, a global pandemic, and more. Civil Discourse offers classroom teachers and school leaders a practical guide to facilitate classroom conversations with knowledge and sensitivity. It will equip you with strategies and tools to not only act tomorrow but to critically reflect on your own practice as an educator.
Civil discourse is essential for a functioning democracy. Schmidt and Pinkney lay out a step-by-step guide using building blocks that allow educators to help build communities in their classrooms by allowing them to foster civil discourse with their students. They involve multiple stakeholders in the solution-based approach to discussing contentious topics in classrooms and how that can make a larger impact outside the classroom. This is a must-read for all who work with students and who want to make an impact through civil discourse.
Civil Discourse: Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities offers hope and help for educators during this highly polarized moment. Co-authors Schmidt and Pinkney urge educators to take courage and view contentious topics as an opportunity to train and instill understanding, belonging, and empathy in students.
Engaging students in discussion requires the teacher to think about much more than which questions to ask. Covering everything from how to communicate with parents to what to do when discussions go awry, this succinct guide provides educators with the foundations and strategies they need to create high-quality classroom discussions.
Now, more than ever, our young people need to be equipped with the right tools to engage in critical conversations that will allow them to take informed action on issues that negatively impact our society. Civil Discourse, with its practical guidance for building community, cultivating empathy, and leaning into discomfort with contentious topics, is exactly the type of resource that educators, no matter the subject area, need to support the next generation of change makers. Bravo and thank you!
In a time of increasing political and social polarization, understanding the ins and outs of civil discourse has never been more important or potentially more impactful. As with so much else, it is often left up to our educators to navigate a difficult path in ensuring that students learn how to engage in civil discourse around difficult conversations. Civil Discourse: Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities provides both experienced and beginning educators with a way to navigate that path.
This is a timely and needed work for teachers engaging in democratic education. The authors both provide practical approaches to engaging with controversies within the classroom and take on key issues of the day—namely, polarization, the effects of misinformation, and the need to engage with others in civil and empathic ways. They make the case for how schools can play a role in addressing these issues and provide practical and applicable steps forward for teachers at a time when these practices may place them under a political microscope in their communities.
Schmidt and Pinkney write at a time when the need for students to engage in true dialogue and discourse is more important than ever. The pointed examples, protocols and structures, and compelling data make this an essential tool for every educator who engages in such rich topics. Students are naturally curious, opinionated, and eager to discuss bold ideas and controversial concepts, and as a result, they need deft educators who are equipped to teach the skills in discourse while thinking critically, suspending judgement.
Schmidt and Pinkney have created a road map for educators to build confidence in instilling the skills of civic engagement in students. As they brilliantly note, by not talking to those with whom we disagree, we are choosing to ignore our interdependence. Economic, social, educational, and environmental benefits can all develop in the form of a well-informed voter focused not on the correct answer but rather on the correct way to navigate civil discourse. This reading gives me hope that students today will be better equipped to create a sustainable civil society for us all.
I can almost hear social studies teachers’ collective sigh of relief. Schmidt and Pinkney have written a book that illuminates one of education’s great challenges and offers realistic, reasonable, and attainable recommendations. The balance of structure and flexibility in their approach reflects an authentic understanding of what it means to be a classroom teacher in this moment. The authors honor teachers’ professionalism and expertise, with vigorous assurance that we all have much to learn.
Schmidt and Pinkney indisputably define and provide a road map/strategy for civil discourse. In a time when barbershop, hair salon, club, and church meeting conversations can turn contentious and even violent at times, these strategies are a welcomed resource. Providing our students with the necessary skills and processes of considerate, thought-provoking discourse may foster transformation of our individual communities.
Schmidt and Pinkney provide a blueprint for teachers who face the daily challenge of tackling contentious topics. Civil Discourse: Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities is a timely resource that will assist teachers with building a classroom culture built on courage, understanding, belonging, and empathy. Teachers are provided helpful strategies that will bolster teacher confidence and ultimately make a positive impact on student learning.
With our homogenized neighborhoods and echo chamber media bubbles, schools are one of the few places where Americans can engage in discourse about important topics with people who hold differing viewpoints. Civil Discourse provides teachers with clear guidance on how to facilitate these invaluable conversations in their classrooms. Teachers from all grade levels will benefit from the wisdom found in these pages.
Learning how to teach contentious issues is difficult for preservice teachers who don’t yet have the confidence to facilitate these types of discussions with students. Civil Discourse: Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities is a road map for teachers on how to get started. Schmidt and Pinkney focus on building community, which is often overlooked in conversations about teaching contentious topics. They lay a foundation for how to have civil discourse in all classrooms—not just social studies ones.
In a time when a primer on engaging students in meaningful and purposeful discourse on public matters has never been more needed, Schmidt and Pinkney deliver a comprehensive vision. Each chapter provides a substantive explanation and actionable recommendations for how teachers, collaborative teams, and administrations can work to transform social studies instruction into a much needed foundry for democratic citizenship.