Talking, Listening, Doing and Learning

The Features of a Lively Session


How we teach, it has been said, is what we teach – the message is in the methodology we use as well as in the content we present. If we wish to teach about respect and mutual understanding and the Muslim concept of shura (broadly parallel to concepts of consultation and deliberative democracy) we need to demonstrate these values in the way we operate.

Young people, it follows further, should be able to take part in discussions and to arrive at positions that may be different from those of their teachers. This can be achieved by using small group work, encouraging debate and discussion, allowing young people to think aloud and speak their minds, and ensuring that all views are heard and respected, even when they are challenged.

A frequent problem when running discussions in educational settings is that young people go off-task – they chat rather than examine conflicting points of view. Or else the discussion becomes over-heated. These problems are particularly prevalent when the subject-matter is sensitive or controversial, or both.

So the first priority, very often, is to provide a safe space – an atmosphere of security and mutual trust. You can find reminders on the menu to the left of practical ways of doing this, and in this way fostering purposeful talk and interaction.

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