Dr. Kent Ingle: Talking about Politics at College – 5 Tips to Help Students Share Opinions and Learn from Others

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I feel that America is more polarized than ever. Studies show that most Americans are feeling divided. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans surveyed say our country is more divided than before.

Political tensions are also pervading schools. In the classroom, students are less likely to participate in political dialogue for fear of recognition by colleagues and faculty.

According to a report from Intelligent.com, 52% of students say they always or often keep their political opinions on themselves. The main reason they did so was because they were afraid of retaliation from other students and professors in terms of respect, grades, and even safety.

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Discussions are very important for student growth and learning experience. The classroom should be a place to challenge and question the theory with respect.

In this August 13, 2019 file photo, students are walking near the Widener Library in Harvard Yard, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (AP Photo / Charles Krupa, file).

Here are some tips for parents of college students to share their political views with their classrooms and friends.

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It’s not about proving that someone is wrong. Let’s face it, we all have our own opinions, and by sharing them, it probably won’t change someone else’s opinion. However, these discussions are important for learning more about other people and listening to different perspectives.

Establish a basic rule that everything will be respected and a safe place for people to share openly without consequences (hopefully the professor will do this in advance).

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Southeastern University has launched the US Political Leadership Center, a bipartisan center to promote political involvement. The center aims to invite politicians from different political parties and expose students to different perspectives. We recognize the value of expanding their worldview and exposing them to different opinions in a safe place.

Set your feelings aside. In any discussion, you cannot allow your feelings to make the most of you. Someone will say something that bothers you. Try to direct the conversation based on research and reasoning, not from anger or frustration. It’s okay to personalize and share the story, but don’t let your emotions adversely affect your conversation.

The value of democracy is the gathering and cooperation of people from different backgrounds, cultures and opinions.

The bottom line is that students need to learn to engage in civic discourse to close political disparities.

This type of conversation is very important in the classroom as it is a safe place for students to learn how to handle different opinions. After graduation, you can teach how to navigate these discussions at work or community events. Encourage them to participate in campus discussions to learn from others how to tackle difficult conversations.

File – University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. (Wikimedia)

File – University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. (Wikimedia)

Please be respectful. When someone is talking, don’t disturb if you feel the blood is boiling. Listen enthusiastically, answer questions and better understand their perspective. Assemble your questions carefully. Instead of being capricious about everything they say, ask how their experience shaped their perspective. Ultimately, you act towards that individual in the way you want to be treated.

Many courses at Southeastern University (I am the president) have students discuss controversial subjects. Often they are asked to discuss a topic from a particular point of view-that is not necessarily what they agree with. This is important to help them understand why someone reaches a particular conclusion. By studying and exploring different perspectives, they can learn to respect their peers more.

Be aware that it makes you uncomfortable. When someone says something that upsets or makes you feel uncomfortable-it happens-keep in conversation. Don’t realize what is being referred to as a personal attack. The more experienced the student, the more comfortable these conversations will be. Discomfort is important for growth.

Your students may not be aware of it at this time, but they have the skills to help them in school and life.

To help depolarize America, Braver Angels is a citizen group that unites red and blue Americans through workshops, discussions, and other events. According to data collected from the Braver Angels program, more than 70% of participants in community-based debates say that this experience “has gained a better understanding of other perspectives.” ..

Don’t allow the argument to adversely shape someone’s view of you. Discussions are intended to be a learning opportunity. However, we cannot allow the opinions of others to change your view of them. In essence, we must be individuals who disagree and can still care for each other.

One of the key findings in Intelligent.com’s research was that people were afraid to lose the respect of their professors and classmates. The American Center for Political Leadership believes that the solution to this growing problem is to encourage the next generation to break out of the bystanders and be thoughtfully involved in the government, which begins in the classroom.

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The bottom line is that students need to learn to engage in civic discourse to close political disparities. You can encourage your children to participate in political dialogue in the classroom, but be sure to show them the best way to do it at home.

The future of our democracy depends on their contributions and ability to navigate these types of conversations.

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Dr. Kent Ingle: Talking about Politics at College – 5 Tips to Help Students Share Opinions and Learn from Others

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