The keynote speaker Irshad Manji at STLHE 2019 spoke about her observation that we live in a society that encourages students to be outraged at the social injustices. What follows are a few key take-aways from her talk (not detailed notes). There are a lot of good tweets summarizing her main points.
Encouragement of outrage in education is problematic.
No matter what field you are in learning how to collaborate with people who think differently is essential.
Get Comfortable with Outrage and Uncertainty
How can we teach a new generation how not to take offense so easily? If we can avoid being offended we can embrace others as complex individuals. When we take offense we become reactive and miss an opportunity to ask sincere opportunities to ask questions.
When educators are not offended they can better facilitate discussions and find common ground.
We need to hear people out to get buy-in for our ideas. Learning to work with people with diverse opinions is essential in the real world.
Transformation happens only in relationships. It is important to build relationships in education to help people deal with difficult conversations. I have been looking at how to have difficult conversations over the past year. There is a really good book on having difficult conversations that has been thought provoking. It is worth investing the time in these skills, particularly for those of us in education.
She says ask not what you can do to change the other person’s mind but ask what you can do to understand them. If you want to be heard you must first be willing to listen. Do not allow outrage to commandeer your conscious.
It is important to notice when you start to get offended and learn how to move past it. I fully agree. It can be very difficult in some situations, but is worth learning how to do.
Again, the main message comes down to listening.
We try to teach our students this, but need to constantly remind ourselves how important listening is.
When you learn about others an interesting thing happens: They see respect. When we build respect we build relationships. Relationships are needed to make meaningful change.
Outrage Has a Place
When discussing some topics it is natural to feel outraged. What she suggests is that we need to move past outrage to make a meaningful impact on society.