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Using The Flip Side in the Classroom

In today’s hyper-partisan world, it’s a small comfort to know that Democrats and Republicans at least agree about their disagreements. In a recent survey, 81% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 76% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said Republican and Democratic voters cannot agree on basic facts of issues. Their viewpoint was validated by a..

curiosity memorization

Curiosity is One Key to Heterodoxy. Forced Memorization is Not

Research shows that intellectual curiosity and openness to ideas are important for academic success. These traits are also relevant for heterodoxy—that is, the more curious people are, the more they will be appreciative of different viewpoints. Studies show that curiosity (but not knowledge) predicts bipartisan attitude convergence about environmental threats such as climate change. Thus,..

open inquiry

10 steps professors can take this semester to promote open inquiry and constructive disagreement in their classrooms

Add language to your syllabi that makes clear open inquiry and constructive disagreement are expected.  Help set the tone in your class by using the syllabus to communicate the value you place on open inquiry and constructive disagreement.  A post on our blog from last January offers some suggestions; the comments on that post provide..

Free Intelligent Conversation

“Free Intelligent Conversation” as a Pedagogical Tool

Free Intelligent Conversation (FreeIC) is a nonprofit organization that facilitates engaging conversations between strangers. It’s simple: participants simply go to public places and hold up signs that read “Free Intelligent Conversation,” inviting people to talk with them about anything and everything. The conversations are then kicked-off using FreeIC Conversation Cards, each containing open-ended questions that..

controversial topics

Don’t Avoid Controversial Topics. Use Them!

Like many faculty members, there are times in class when I joyfully watch students actively engage in constructive disagreement. Unfortunately, they do not happen enough. Too many students avoid openly challenging their peers on controversial topics. The old adage, “go along to get along” rules their classroom interactions. This inclination towards avoidance often infects my..

ESL and Viewpoint Diversity

This is the second post in our Teaching Heterodoxy series.

By Dr. Cory Holland, Worcester State University

The following activity occurred in the context of an English as a Second Language (ESL) writing class for international students hoping to matriculate in US universities. This particular class was evenly split between students from China and students from Saudi Arabia, a detail that will become important shortly. Students in this class are at a high-intermediate level of English proficiency and are learning to write short essays in genres common to introductory university classes.

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Syllabus Language to Support Viewpoint Diversity

There’s broad agreement that the syllabus is a contract of sorts that spells out expectations, policies, and pathways through the inquiry at hand.  Equally important, I ask my syllabus to set the tone for the entire course. I pick my words carefully, hoping to signal my and my students’ reciprocal roles in the processes of teaching and learning. As students and faculty alike navigate ideological polarization, tribalism, and hostility, it feels especially important to get this tone-setting document right.

rigorous inclusion

Rigorous Intentional Inclusion

“What would you say if I told you I own a gun?” This is how I began a lecture called “The Soap Operas of Sociology” for my Introduction to Sociology course. After a brief pause, I was met with a variety of responses.  Some students say, “Good for you!” Others look in disbelief. Then, I..

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Back to School Video Playlist

Are you about to start college? Or will you be applying to college this winter? Do you want to get the most out of your college experience and emerge smarter, emotionally stronger, and more self-sufficient when you graduate? Then be sure to watch these three videos. Many universities contain subcultures that will make you less..