Tagged Socratic Seminar on the Importance of Civil Discourse

Civil Discourse: A Socratic Seminar on the Impact of Civility in Public Life

How does civility/incivility impact public life?

This is the driving question for a Socratic Seminar I hosted for teachers through the ESC of Central Ohio and PBL Ohio this Wednesday, October 26.  Here is a link to this and other upcoming events I will host in collaboration with them.

To begin conversation, here are two short news clips and a link to a letter.  After viewing/reading each one, write down initial impressions based upon the question: What is the impact of civility/incivility in modern, public life?  Also record other questions these news items evoke for you around the topic of civil discourse.

  1. Watch this two-minute summary of the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump which CNN named the “Scorched Earth Presidential Debate in Two Minutes.”  Also included on this same link is a montage video of Trump interrupting Hillary in another debate and a video titled “60 Seconds of Pure Vitrol” where Clinton and Trump insult one another.
  2. Also check out this three-minute video called “Going Beyond a Civil Discourse” from Fox News which describes violence and threats made to both parties during the 2011 healthcare debates.
  3. Lastly, here is the recently released letter that George Bush left in the Oval Office for Bill Clinton after he had lost the election.

At the workshop, we used this entry event to generate a list of questions together.  They are as follows:

  • What is civil discourse?
  • What is the current level of interest in civil discourse in our society?
  • What is the impact of social media on our civility?  
  • What is the impact of our modern lifestyle on civility?  (The immediate gratification culture)
  • When is civility more difficult and why?  
  • What is the future of civil discourse?  
  • Have we become less civil?  
  • Where is the line between public and private life?  Does this line impact our civility? Explain.
  • How can we stay engaged in the discourse when we have been disenchanted and do not want to do so?  
  • Why do I want to engage in this modern discourse?
  • Where is the line between civility and incivility?
  • Is incivility necessary and when?  
  • Why does there appear to be greater public response when the discourse is not civil?  
  • Which is worse, secret judgement that is civil or uncivil, outward judgement?
  • How does public discourse influence private behavior?
  • Should we, as educators, model and expect civil and/or uncivil discourse from ourselves and students?  
  • How do we model civil discourse as teachers and role models?   
  • How does civility, or a lack of, influence production?  

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