Friday, July 24, 2020

Let's Discuss the Way We Discuss

The non-face-to-face class instruction conducted because of Corona 19 this semester was a new experience for both the learner and the instructor. Non-face-to-face classes have great implications in the post-corona era in that they have attempted new types of interactions between learners and instructors. A professor explains in Catholic Peace Weekly her own experience in the new way of teaching.

Learners evaluate the classes taken at the end of each semester. 'Interaction' to evaluate the learners' satisfaction with a class is an important factor in determining the quality of the class. Discussion is one of the types of interaction in the classroom.

The interaction may be called: debate, discussion, and deliberation in English. In Korea, a debate has the meaning of dispute. Its purpose is the persuasion of others to one's position by attacking the loopholes in the opponent's logic. This kind of discussion is often observed in class. Among the opinions, what do you agree or disagree with? Most of these are dichotomous questions with yes/no, agree/disagree, true/false answers.

What are these students asked to do after these questions? After choosing one of the two positions, it would be to attack the other person's opinion and defend one's own logic. This kind of discussion tends to cultivate a black-and-white logical way of thinking— my opinions are without error and the others are worthless. As the goal of the debate is to persuade the other person, the discussion lacks the opportunity to learn tolerance, accept what is right in another's opinion, and often the arousal of emotions. As a result, after the discussion, it is easy to be left with the consciousness of victory or defeat.

A discussion's goal is to gather comprehensive and rational opinions through multifaceted sharing of ideas. The role of the instructor is, of course, important to direct proper interaction. As far as possible, questions with dichotomous or correct answers that prevent the expression of disagreements should be avoided.

How about revising the previous discussion question as follows? Why do we have a problem? What are you in favor of and with what do you disagree? In what circumstances would what we are talking about be more important or less important? Is the argument completely false, or partially true?

The media is also responsible for our failure to discuss based on various options that we have. Let's recall for a moment the debate scene reflected in the media. Traditional debate-style programs that invite experts from various fields can often deal with dichotomous questions that reinforce black-and-white thinking. Even if the form of the question is not, the panel with a position in favor of the subject and the panel with a position in opposition sit facing each other. The way the stage is set up is to draw the audience watching the positions that fit the viewer's logic.

The media is obliged to provide a public sphere where various dissenting opinions are shared. However, it is necessary to examine objectively to see if the media is an obstacle in establishing a desirable culture for discussion. She concludes asking the readers: "Let's discuss the way we discuss from now on."

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