The 7th graders in Jamie Steiner’s and Candace Scala’s Current Events classes are debating some hot topics, using the “Civil Discourse in the Classroom” framework created by the Southern Poverty Law Center. This curriculum teaches students to discuss their opinions on potentially contentious issues by first providing a reason for their position, and then supporting that perspective with evidence. They are learning about the importance of echoing someone else’s viewpoint before articulating a rebuttal as well as how to communicate their thoughts in front of an opposing audience.
After reading an article in Scholastic Upfront magazine about laws being proposed in many states to restrict social media platforms for minors, the students were able to analyze different perspectives on the issue and form their own opinions. Not surprisingly, the students had very strong opinions on the topic. Several argued that laws restricting access to social media would affect their access to mental health resources and educational tools, and would narrow their social world.