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3 Steps to Civil Discourse in an Educational Setting

In educational settings, civil discourse is very important for conflict resolution. Why? There are lots of discussions or dialogues in an academic setting, and many of these can become so heated. Maintaining calm while in this very heated discussion is almost always tricky. But then the parties involved must reach a conclusion where they understand themselves. This makes civil discourse key for mutual understanding because it helps the different parties to achieve the said mutual understanding using respectful and productive dialogues.

Civil Discourse

But what is civil discourse, and how can it be used in educational settings to resolve conflicts?

    Civil Discourse Vs. Conflict Resolution in Educational Settings

    Many authors or individuals have varying views about civil discourse. However, there are still lots of similarities between them. One of the most concise descriptions of civil discourse is that it is a respectful discussion or dialogue that’s productive. Since every party involved gets to air their opinions. There’s no rancor, and every view or opinion is accepted even if they disagree.

    Civil discourse for conflict resolution in an educational setting is far different from a debate, with a supposed winner at the end of it. It is not a competition nor a contest. Instead, it is a tool that can be used to promote better understanding.

    In an educational setting, everyone has a role to play to ensure they have a discussion that’s not only civilized but also productive. Both the educators and the students. But how can they do that?

    Suppose you are any of these or just interested in knowing how civil discourse in an educational setting works. In that case, the following three steps will be most helpful.

    Step one: Start with You.

    The best way to engage in civil discourse is to start with yourself. Research has proven that modeling is one of the best ways to tell people about positive values you’d love them to emulate. Civil discourse is one positive value that is important in an educational setting.

    Being a role model is not easy. That bit, we know. A lot comes into play, with the most critical part requiring you to search your soul. And do it honestly.

    You must answer some of these questions to be a role model for civil discourse. Your answers will tell you if you are ready to engage in civil discourse for conflict resolution.

    • Can you stay calm when an educator or student says things you don’t like? Without a change in your facial expressions?
    • When a conclusion is reached that differs from your initial point of view or the opinion you reached, are you comfortable enough to accept it?
    • Suppose another party states facts or has opinions that differ from yours. Do you get emotional trying to explain why you disagree with them?
    • Finally, can you stay calm through an argument without lashing out at anyone?

    You are good to go if you answered most of these questions in the affirmative. But you will have to work on them if you do not or struggle through them. They may seem ordinary, but they are important skills for a stronger civil discourse.

    Remember, in civil discourse, your goal should not be to reach a definite conclusion. Rather, your goal is to get acquainted with various views and opinions while staying respectful.

    Step two: Monitor and control the environment

    Civil discourse, whether in an educational setting or not, needs a temperate environment. An environment that is not too hot, very heated, not too cold, or very chilly.

    A temperate and controlled environment will help you avoid the adverse effects of either extreme. Effects of heated environments could be irrational and emotional tantrums replacing civilized discussions or attacking the person instead of addressing the subject of debate.

    In cold climates, parties might become too timid and not partake in the conversation because of an inferiority complex. Or they could also be avoiding trouble by playing safe and hoping to please everyone.

    In either of these situations, there is entirely no productivity. This makes it your objective to ensure the environment stays temperate during and after the discussion. But how?

    First, you need to earn people’s trust that they are free to express themselves around you without any risks or consequences.

    As an educator, you must;

    State the expected outcome of the discussion
    Set and maintain boundaries that would keep your students safe
    Ensure civil discourse rules are maintained and respected

    As a student, you must;

    Avoid taking the discussion personal
    Respect the boundaries set by your educator
    Use logical and persuasive arguments to make your points and state your position.

    Remember that everyone has a right to their opinion in civil discourse. And that right should be respected, and the individual’s dignity maintained.

    Step three: Don’t be in a rush. Slow and steady wins the race

    Engaging in productive civil discourse is like every other skill. You don’t have to rush it. Yes, it takes time and will require lots of practice, but the result is always worth it.

    You are not expected to figure it out the first time and are also not allowed to give up. Keep step 1 and 2 at heart, and add other elements of civil discourse. Before long, you’ll find yourself using civil discourse for conflict resolution within and outside the educational setting.

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