What We're Into: Students Connecting Through Dialogue

Photo via Norsk Folkehjelp Norwegian People's Aid on Flickr

As our name suggests, we value connection — reaching across dividing lines to find shared goals and benefit one another reciprocally. In the past few months in particular, we've thought and talked a lot about how to forge connections among communities that have become more and more polarized. Within our programs, we use constructive dialogue guidelines to help people share their ideas and give and receive feedback in a thoughtful, productive way. 

That's why we appreciated this post about the power of cross-cultural dialogue to promote critical thinking and empathy. Coming from Mind/Shift, the education-focused section of public media outlet KQED, the article discusses the value of connection and dialogue for students. It focuses on Generation Global, a program that provides curriculum to help students learn the skills of healthy dialogue, and then invites them to exercise those skills by connecting them to peers in other countries.

Both within their classroom and with students around the globe, students get the chance to practice active listening and using non-judgmental "I" statements. These activities help students learn to be more empathetic, consider their own perspectives, and counteract implicit bias.

The article quotes Generation Global's head of education, Ian Jamison, who says, “The great thing about dialogue is it enables you to get inside someone else’s perspective. So you explore not knowledge, but experiences, values and beliefs.” 

Generation Global's definition of dialogue, the piece explains, is "an empowering process that enables students to encounter the other in a safe environment; transforming the unfamiliar into the familiar. It is profoundly reciprocal, and rooted in an open, mutually respectful approach."

We're happy to see young students learn about and exercise constructive dialogue, both locally and globally. And we're eager to keep practicing it in our own communities! For more on how we strive to connect thoughtfully and respectfully, check out CtG's Rachel Kesselem on active listening.