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Skills - Speaking - Discussions - Intro
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Discussions
by michelle

Added on Jan 4, 2014: Handout for a positive gender discussion pdf (3 pages)

The aim of our discussion on topics is to exchange information, experiences and reasoned opinions. You must surely have some info, have had some experience on the issue and have opinions about issues connected to the topic.

Before the discussion we need to be clear of the points we wish to put forward, so we will have some time to work in small groups with mini-discussions: in turns, make your points and then discuss your ideas. During the plenary discussion there will be a round for people/groups to present their points (somebody can report, as a rep, especially if the rest plan to take part in the plenary discussion). After we have listened to everybody, we can start discussing: contrasting, investigating ideas.

  1. Defending a position is NOT to prevail. It means, simply, we have reasons to believe some idea. Dialogue can make us change our opinions, or modify in part our understanding. That is not a humiliating issue, but a result of the use of intelligence!
  2. Criticizing other people’s ideas is positive and it is always done with reasons. To be good at this we must listen, and not interpret – most arguments come from assumptions, which may or may not have a connection to actual events or feeling.
  3. If people feel attacked by our ideas, it’s their problem. An idea is not an attack, even though that is how we name it. If an idea is explained with reasons, there is no violence in that, because reasons can be discussed – there’s the respect to others, there’s the love of the free thinker, the love to learn about what surrounds us and ourselves. Respect towards others comes from people giving you reasons, not from people saying you are right, necessarily!

NB: Take notes during the discussion. To remember later (you’ll forget at some point, even if you think you won’t!) and to avoid interrupting. And take part. Don’t think you have nothing interesting to say. It’s absurd. And even if that were true, you are here to practice your English! :P

After the discussion, we should find some time to meditate. It’d be great if you could write something about it, for instance, a reasoned opinion on some point of your interest (80-150 words).

Read more: Learn it all about holding good discussions!

Discussions 1 (Value, Preparation, Roles) * Discussions 2 (Formats) * Discussions 3 (Decision-making process)