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Teaching Students How to Argue

Teaching Students How to Argue

Especially in the age of social media, hot button issues often come up in comment sections or forums. Those topics can easily make their way into the classroom! Instead of shutting down difficult conversations, teach students how to respectfully argue and discuss. Here are 10 ways to teach students how to disagree with grace. 

  1. Explain what logic means. Start out by explaining what it means to be logical. Give examples of a logical argument. The classic example of this is: if A = B and B = C, then A = C. You can replace the variables with your argument. Dogs are canines, canines are mammals, therefore all dogs are mammals.
  2. Teach by showing. Spend some time practicing arguments in the classroom.
  3. Be sympathetic. Sympathy is an excellent tool to use in an argument. Saying you understand their point of view and then stating your feelings will help them to feel heard.
  4. Explain what it means to win an argument. Many feel that winning an argument means forcing their way. The true meaning of winning an argument is successfully changing the mind of the other person.
  5. Be in the right headspace. Encourage your students not to argue when they’re angry.
  6. Know the difference between fact and opinion. A good way to practice this is to read a news report and an opinion piece on the same topic and point out the differences.
  7. Explore rhetorical strategies like ethos, pathos, and logos. 
  1. Be passionate not personal. Do not name call, yell, or belittle the other person. You cannot win an argument that way.
  2. Be willing to be wrong. An argument means coming to an understanding. If you refuse to be wrong you’ll come off arrogant.
  3. Don’t assume the other person’s thoughts. You’re not a mind reader. Be careful of letting bias make assumptions about another’s position. Ask clarifying questions if you need.

Arguing is an important skill to have in the world. Help your students learn to argue successfully.