Establish class discussion guidelines.
As social scientists, economists help, or should be helping, students think through challenging current social issues. If you are concerned about managing difficult conversations in the classroom, you can share these class discussion guidelines. Or, alternatively, you can have students come up with a list themselves.
Guidelines for productive discussions
- We are all here to learn. Discuss economic and social issues in ways that promote mutual understanding and inquiry.
- Share responsibility for including all voices in the conversation. If you tend to have a lot to say, make sure you leave sufficient space to hear from others. If you tend to stay quiet in group discussions, challenge yourself to contribute so others can learn from you.
- Listen respectfully. Don’t interrupt, turn to technology, or engage in private conversations while others are speaking. Comments that you make should reflect that you have paid attention to the previous speakers’ comments.
- Understand that we are bound to make mistakes in this space, as anyone does when approaching complex tasks or learning new skills. Strive to see your mistakes and others’ as valuable elements of the learning process.
- Understand that your words have effects on others. Speak with care. If you learn that something you’ve said was experienced as disrespectful or marginalizing, listen carefully and try to understand that perspective. Learn how you can do better in the future.
- Take pair work or small group work seriously. Remember that your peers’ learning is partly dependent upon your engagement.
- Understand that others will come to these discussions with different experiences from yours. Be careful about assumptions and generalizations you make based only on your own experience. Be open to hearing and learning from other perspectives.
Some of these guidelines are pulled from University of Michigan CRLT.