Civics needs to start with civility

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To the Editor:

While the merits of a civics course are debated, I think it may be best if the course had a prerequisite class in civility. Before we put kids in a class to learn and debate the latest in political issues, a class on civil debate and discussion would be greatly appreciated.

The kids as well as the majority of adults in society today spend more time “discussing” politics by talking past one another, interjecting, yelling, and debasing each other. We need to start teaching kids that it does not matter how vehemently they disagree with each other; neither side of an argument can possibly convince the opposing viewpoint to consider their ideas if they refuse to let them finish a statement of their own. Kids need to learn to agree to disagree when the rift in viewpoint is too great. 

A good civil debate between opposing views should leave each side with the ability to properly express what the other person’s ideas or beliefs are after the debate is over. Perhaps some may even want to establish a debate team to practice their skills. After all, learning to argue for a viewpoint you don’t agree with can be most illuminating. What is being passed off as “debate” today is just resulting in more animosity and less understanding. If we want to have any hope in bringing the country together and solving problems, it has to start with civility.

 

Peter Goodale
Vineyard Haven