Civil Classrooms Make Future Leaders
It is our intention that every every classroom be an island of civility where faculty members set examples of fair-minded, respectful, sensitive, caring, tolerant, and cooperative behavior–and students learn to practice it.
Our classrooms must always be places where competing ideas, opposing ideologies, moral dilemmas of all descriptions, and cultural differences are appreciated, given a fair hearing, studied, discussed, and debated rationally and civilly. We do not indoctrinate our students or expect to shape their views on topics. We teach each student the skills of respectful debate and critical thinking to examine issues from all sides and make an informed decision.
To this end, one of our principal is to create a classroom environment in which students are given many opportunities to practice “civil” discourse in the presence of differing views, and learn to speak civilly to each other, work through disagreements, treat each other with respect, and avoid the absolutism and demonization that too often accompanies the polarization seen in modern society.
There are undoubtedly many ways to go about creating such an environment. Gary Pavela, editor of Synfax Weekly Report, offered the following advice in the November 8, 2004 edition of Synfax:
- Students need to see civility as an acquired skill. It requires careful thinking and habituation, stimulated by good example. Administrators can help by arranging debates about controversial issues between faculty colleagues known for their emotional intelligence. Part of the discussion should include analysis of ways to examine polarizing issues in the spirit of truth seeking rather than confrontation.
In aid of further developing Pavela’s last point, faculty and students are urged to visit Christian Science Monitor’s “Essential Partners – Bold Explorations in Community,” a web site, …which promotes constructive conversations and relationships among people who have differing values, world views, and perspectives about divisive public issues.
We’ve been educating bright minds for well over a century. That’s why a degree from GMC means more than just a great education. It means success.