- Express and explore diverse viewpoints on social issues, such as climate change, gender equality, and healthcare
- Engage in discussions to consider different perspectives while practicing strategies related to respectful communication, curiosity, and kindness
Perspective taking is an important ability that facilitates problem-solving, even when we disagree with the other person, as it increases cognitive flexibility to switch between differing viewpoints. Educators should encourage students to practice perspective taking as they explore different perspectives on social issues and understand why their classmates may hold certain beliefs. During the group discussions, educators should also reinforce inclusivity, collaboration, and diplomacy as students seek out different perspectives, listen carefully to each other, and show sensitivity towards others’ emotions.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
- Select social issues that are important for your students, and come up with statements to describe different viewpoints. For example:
• Human activities significantly contribute to climate change.
• Gender equality has been achieved in our society.
• Social media has a negative impact on our mental health.
• Access to healthcare is a basic human right, and we must have a universal healthcare system.
• Strict gun control laws are essential for public safety.
• Freedom of speech should be limited to prevent hate speech.
• Social media platforms should regulate content to prevent misinformation.
• Voting should be mandatory for every eligible citizen.
• College education should be free for all students.
• The government should strictly regulate the use of single-use plastics.
- Create a large open space in the classroom where students can move freely. Designate one side of the room as "strongly disagree" and the opposite side as "strongly agree”.
- Announce one of the statements to the class, such as: “Human activities significantly contribute to climate change.”
Students should physically move to the part of the room that represents their level of agreement or disagreement with the statement. If they strongly disagree, they move to the "strongly disagree" end, and if they strongly agree, they move to the "strongly agree" end. If they are neutral and “neither disagree nor agree” with the statement, they should position themselves in the center of the room.
- Once students have positioned themselves, ask them to find a partner who has a different opinion and is standing in a different spot in the room. If students aren’t distributed evenly throughout the room, they can also form small groups of 4-5 students with a mix of perspectives.
- Each pair (or group member) should take turns sharing their thoughts on the issue. Encourage students to actively listen to each other, ask questions, and consider the reasoning behind their partner's stance.
- Bring the class back together for a larger discussion, and invite a few students to share their thoughts with everyone. Emphasize the importance of listening carefully to each person and treating them with respect and kindness, even when students disagree with them.
Encourage students to ask questions to deepen their understanding of others’ perspectives, such as:
• What personal experiences or observations have shaped your thoughts on this issue?
• What are some of your values or beliefs related to this issue?
• Can you share some information that supports your perspective?
• Why do you think someone could have a different opinion on this issue?
• If you had to advocate for the other side of this issue, what would you say?
- Consider repeating the activity with additional prompts.
- After completing the activity, guide students through a reflection by asking the following questions:
• What was challenging about speaking with a classmate who had a different opinion than you?
• How do you think your interaction would have been different if it had happened online? Why?
• Were you able to agree on something with your partner? Is there a belief or value that you share in common?
• Did someone share any information that you hadn’t considered before? How did this impact your view on the issue?
• What are some strategies that help ensure a respectful and constructive conversation, especially when people have opposing viewpoints?
• How can you apply these strategies to other parts of your life, whether at school, at home, or in the community?
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.