Debate = Microaggressions!

Professors should promote “dialogue, not debate” during class to prevent students from committing microaggressions, according to two New England professors.

In the latest issue of the Journal of Teaching in Social Work, New York University Professor Justin Lerner and Simmons College Professor Anjali Fulambarkerurge their colleagues to cultivate a “space free from microaggressions” by adopting a “social justice agenda” in class.

To rid classrooms of microaggressions, their first recommendation for professors involves requiring students to wear “name cards with gender pronouns” so that students “can avoid being mislabeled from the 1st day.”

“Each week, for the entirety of the semester, students should wear these name tags, which also may help the instructor take attendance by picking up the name tags at the end of class each week,” they explain.

After students create their name cards, Lerner and Fulambarker urge professors to establish “group guidelines” so that students’ “comfort” is kept in mind. The principle of “dialogue, not debate” is one of the most important guidelines, the two note.

Debate, they warn, “involves one person proving the other person wrong, or themselves to be right. Of course, this is a zero sum [sic] game.”

Further, the professors warn that debaters “often are not actually trying to have meaningful conversations and promote stimulating dialogue but rather just to prove their opponent to be wrong at all costs,” and thus conclude that debate has no place in the classroom.

To prevent certain students from monopolizing class discussion, they also urge professors to make a habit of calling upon certain students to “move in” or “move out” of discussions, explaining that “the terms ‘move in’ and ‘move out’ are used to avoid the more ableist language of ‘step in’ and ‘step out.’”

Once students are comfortable with being asked to “move out” of discussions, professors can more easily deal with students who use microaggressive words, such as “Pow Wow,” “guys” and “American.”

Read the rest at: microaggression

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