I guess it’s been a long, but inspiring day. Tonight after getting home to Seattle, I attended a lecture by Michael Sandel, author of many books including Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?
It was a great talk on philosophy, Aristotle’s view of justice, and how our political discourse today has become empty shouting matches. He engaged the audience in various moral and ethical issues, but the one thing that stood out in this lecture was that in order to have a functioning democracy, we need to start listening to each other and engage with those who disagree.
What is the purpose of what you are debating, and what is it’s value and qualities that make it worthy were questions he came back to for every question he posed to the audience.
I think this can be done with second graders too. They can debate what are difficult questions that are related to them such as: do zoos belong in a community? Which is better paper or plastic? Teaching kids to listen actively to opposing views can deepen their ability to think critically, and appreciate differences.
Even as adults, when we are engaged in something that we are emotionally tied to – being able to listen and be rational, will bring us closer to justice.