Students respond to devastation through civil discourse – what is the point of discussions?

After an event as controversial as the Michael Brown case, it was inevitable that the Blake school would be affected. On Monday, December 1, during tutorial, a planning meeting was held at the Carlson Commons to discuss how to proceed after such an occurrence, and how to handle one in the future.

Several ideas were thrown out by many students and teachers. Starting off the meeting, a student asserted that controversial current issues must be discussed in a classroom setting, so everyone can be informed of the situation. All students would be able to listen and learn about the incident, whether they would like to participate in the discussion or not. A contrasting idea offered was having a expert panel speak about the situation during a symposium, and educate our community with knowledgeable facts and opinions, which leads us to the next topic. Many people thought that opinions have to be well-informed and not based solely on little snippets heard from here and there. Another matter deliberated was the idea of discomfort, and if it compliments a discussion. One student assured everyone that he had never learned anything from a discussion without discomfort, while others believed that it is unnecessary.

10410105_749937665077959_7264204830424710770_nA disputed subject was the idea of changing one’s mind. Some thought that since Blake students will one day go on to be leaders in the world it is important that students learn to have fair and just opinions on matters such as the Michael Brown case. A very thought provoking comment made by a student was that the point a of discussion is not to change one’s mind, but to offer the opportunity to do so. All the facts must be given and all different opinions should be brought up, so that sometime, whether it be immediately or far in the future, the person can make an opinion of their own that they feel is the most righteous. A point brought up by a teacher was that before any discussion, a purpose needs to be established. Without a purpose, lots of things can be said, but the conversation could never leave the starting line. Overall, the discussion was very captivating and provided many riveting ideas that could lead to more even dialogues.