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June 20, 2017+Team HxA
+Teaching+Constructive Disagreement

Episode 5: Cristine Legare, Socioeconomic Diversity and Teaching Controversial Topics

In this episode, Chris Martin (@Chrismartin76) interviews Cristine Legare (@CristineLegare), Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas-Austin. She specializes in the study of culture, cultural learning, and cognition. She is a winner of the 2015 APS Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions. She serves on the executive board of Heterodox Academy. 0:00 Why socioeconomic diversity is important 6:21 How UT Austin is increasing socioeconomic diversity 12:10 SES diversity is intertwined with viewpoint diversity 15:05 Cristine’s recent experience with controversial class topics 20:00 Positive class evaluations 22:49 Techniques to have productive conversations in class 26:30: Illustrating unproductive forms of dialogue You can learn more Cristine Legare at her website. Cristine’s argument for greater socioeconomic diversity can be found here. Articles and books mentioned during the interview: Selected Quotes:
“And so one of the things that I had them do as an assignment for this book was to use Moral Foundations Theory to present arguments for and against teaching creationism in science classrooms, and the way the students were graded in this particular assignment was the extent to which both sides of that argument were equally persuasive….I wasn’t arguing that we should teach creationism in science classrooms, I don’t think that we should. But I think it’s a useful opportunity to accurately represent and convey beliefs that are very different from your own, and students struggle with this a little bit, but really embraced it and took this on. And gathered data from all kinds of different sources. They kind of spontaneously interviewed friends of theirs that were young-earth creationists. It was really fascinating.”
“In addition to modeling constructive ways to have a dialogue, I also model a few examples of bad practice…I used examples in class of both very religious people as well as atheists, and ways in which people from both those camps did a good and a bad job at reaching others, and I also use this as an opportunity to talk about how particular styles of argumentation are not persuasive. They’re meant basically to further endear you to people who already think the way that you do. That is kind of psychologically satisfying for people but that is not constructive, so when you get a famous atheist scientist talking on and on about how stupid religious people are, his goal is definitely not to convert, not to persuade, from a persuasion perspective, that is entirely ineffective. In fact, I would say destructive.”
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