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.
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