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How This Independent School Creates Dialogues Across Differences

Photo credit: The Wheeler School

As part of the global studies program at Middlesex School in Concord, the coed day boarding school teaches a course “Dialogues Across Differences.” This helps students have difficult conversations in ways that don’t divide.

Here is the six-week syllabus:

Week 1: Hearing vs. Listening
Tuning out our biases, assumptions, and cultural stereotypes when someone else speaks makes it possible for us to actively listen to what someone else is saying.

Week 2: Intention vs. Impact
Moving away from defensiveness when impacts don’t match intentions.

Week 3: Identifying and Separating Feelings vs. Needs
Understanding our shared needs can move us past hatred between groups (religions, genders, sexualities, jobs, races, etc.) and toward positive solutions.

Week 4: Tone, Body Language, and Reaction
How can we initiate a difficult conversation with someone who insulted or attacked us?

Week 5: Empathy
Understanding that in spite of differences in behavior, all human beings deserve respect and opportunities.

Week 6: Synthesis, Application, and Reflection
Put it all into practice.

Photo credit: Berwick Academy

For more information about independent schools in New England, visit aisne.org or search our Find It database.