For years now, I have been using Support/Oppose statements in my APUSH, US History and Multicultural Studies courses to encourage debate and deepen discussion. I’ve also written about past lessons using a 4 corners dialogue/debate model in my classes. These statements are meant to encourage debate, and so some of them are highly controversial. I’ve used them in my classroom to facilitate a 4 corners discussion with students. Each corner has strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose and strongly oppose written on a piece of paper. Students who are undecided go to the middle of the room without judgment. As a facilitator, I prompt students to share their beliefs and have them move from one corner to another depending on the prompt. This dialogue and debate encourages students to explore deeply many sides to one particular issue. The goal is to gain and analyze perspective, in order to evaluate and problem solve, not just to soapbox. Sometimes individual debates rise between students, and depending on how it enriches the discussion, and stays on the issues, it is not prohibited. I am the official who has the ability to move the discussion, but the truth is that conversation grows organically. Even students who do not speak are engaged critically, as their exit cards show.
We follow the rules of deliberative dialogue from the Choices Program at Brown University: http://www.choices.edu/resources/tools_studentrubric.php and http://www.choices.edu/resources/prosandcons.php
- I demonstrated knowledge of the topic. This was made evident by reference to a variety of resources from multiple perspectives.
- I demonstrated an appreciation of the contributions that multiple perspectives bring to the topic. This was made evident by reference to competing perspectives and the merits and trade-offs of each.
- I listened to and respected the knowledge, views and values of others. This was made evident by listening carefully, asking clarifying questions, and building on the ideas of others, while not dominating conversation.
As with all things in the classroom, this is still a work-in-progress. Below is a list of support/oppose statements I’ve used in the past. Please make suggestions, additions or modifications. I’ve been working on different means to assess student participation and measure depth of analysis, as well. There are many different methods that I’m in the process of adapting from Socratic Seminar models. In class, we use a very useful classroom discussion guideline developed by Angela Cunningham in KY.
WORLD WAR 2
- The good of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
- The Axis Powers had to be stopped, no matter what.
- Killing civilians is a war crime.
- All citizens must sacrifice when their country goes to war.
- Hitler’s racism was worse than America’s racism.
- Women won the war.
- Stalin killed more people than Hitler. Allying with him was wrong.
- Appeasement only makes the aggressor more aggressive.
- If the US has the power to stop a genocide, it must.
- America could have remained neutral.
- When the war was over, women should give up their jobs to men.
- The US must continue to use atom bombs until the Japanese surrender.
- A draft is undemocratic.
- Dissent is treason during a war.
- The Jews could have fought back.
- Winning the war means destroying the enemy completely.
- Every NAZI soldier is guilty of war crimes.
- Creating peace is harder than fighting a war.
- Another World War is impossible today.
CHOICES PROGRAM: IMMIGRATION
- The strength of the U.S. lies in its diversity, particularly in the fresh ideas and cultures provided by new immigrants.
- High levels of immigration threaten America’s unique culture.
- Promoting America’s economic strength should be the guiding principle underlying our country’s immigration policy.
- The U.S. cannot isolate itself from problems beyond our borders.
- The U.S. must remain a symbol of hope and opportunity for the people of the world.
- Loose border control makes us vulnerable to drug trafficking and terrorism.
- Developing well-crafted foreign aid and trade programs can help people in poor countries and discourage immigration to the U.S.
- The U.S. needs immigrants to contribute to our economic growth.
POV FARMINGVILLE: IMMIGRATION
- Only American citizens deserve political representation.
- Law enforcement should have the right to randomly check an individual’s citizenship.
- Rights should apply to all individuals, not just citizens.
- Anti-immigrant sentiment is racist.
- All individuals have a right to work.
- Employers who hire illegal immigrants should be jailed.
- The government should actively fight racism, discrimination and hate crimes.
- The good of the community should outweigh the need of the individual.
- Accepting cultural diversity makes America stronger.
PBS THE NEW AMERICANS: IMMIGRATION
- There are too many immigrants coming to the United States.
- The U.S. government should put more Immigration and Naturalization Service border patrol agents on the border with Mexico.
- U.S. immigration policy has been fair to all groups entering the U.S.
- If a country is having economic problems, the U.S. should allow its residents to come here for a better life.
- Having a variety of cultures and languages in America benefits everyone.
- Illegal immigrants take away jobs from U.S. citizens.
- Most immigrants come to the U.S. just to get on welfare.
- If a country is having political problems, the U.S. should allow persecuted citizens from this country to seek asylum here.
- Everyone who comes to the U.S. should be required to learn English.
- Immigration has helped the United States.
COMING OF AGE RITUALS
- Adults are not born, but made.
- Rituals exist to influence values & beliefs.
- Rituals shape group, not individual, identity.
- Diversity weakens rituals in American society.
- American rituals lack meaning.
- Cultural rituals have enriched my life.
- Religious rituals are more meaningful than secular ones.
- All cultures are equal.
- Race is an illusion.
- People can be both united and diverse.
- Multiculturalism dilutes cultural uniqueness.
- Culture is a choice; culture is taught.
- Biracial individuals can choose their race.
- America is a ‘melting pot’.
- Women should serve equally in all areas in the military.
- Women make strong world leaders.
- Laws should enforce equal pay for equal work.
- Sexual violence should receive maximum prison sentences.
- Positions in government should be divided equally by gender.
- The rights of women should be equally enforced in all countries.
- The United States is a fundamentally classless society.
- We are a middle class nation.
- We are all getting richer.
- It is possible to create economic equality.
- Everyone has an equal chance to gain wealth in America.
- Class division affects all ethnic groups equally.
PATRIOT ACT/POST 9-11
- Some rights must be given up to guarantee security.
- Preemptive military action prevents terrorism.
- Racial profiling based on suspicion is never justified.
- Civil Liberties can never be abrogated.
- There are conditions which make non-violent direct action impossible.
- Power cannot be given. It must be gained.
- “Peace begins when the hungry are fed.” – Anonymous
- “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”- Jimi Hendrix
- “There is no such thing as a defeat in non-violence.” – Cesar Chaves
- “Character is power.” Booker T. Washington
- All power can be lost.
- People have the power to change anything in the society.
- The Constitution should be interpreted literally.
- The government can use the military to enforce laws.
- Unrestrained democracy is no danger to the United States.
- “A national debt, if not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.”
- “Those who own the country ought to govern it.”
- Racism heavily influenced class division.
- It is the role of a democratic government to protect its citizens from economic exploitation.
- Assimilation is a necessity. Diversity is a choice.
- Capitalism was the cause of industrialization’s inequalities.
- Immigration is a not a right in a democracy.
- The Civil War was worth its cost.
- Racial equality depends on government action
- Economic power determines political power (south, north)
- Political freedom cannot exist without an economic foundation.
- Religious beliefs shape cultural identity.
- Religious tolerance requires democratic values.
- Freedom of religion is a democratic right.
- Cultural diversity necessitates religious tolerance.
- Religious values are separate from civil rights issues.
- Religion is society’s greatest organizing principal.
- Multiculturalism reduces religious conflict.
- Modern religions do not form culturally distinct groups.
- American culture is religiously tolerant