Discussion and listening skills – A useful way to stimulate discussion on a range of cultural diversity issues and develop constructive discussion skills.
- To stimulate discussion about issues of cultural diversity.
- To develop the skills of constructive discussion.
A series of statements about cultural diversity.
Note: The teacher should exercise judgement in terms of the group’s experience/knowledge of the subject matter and their level of discussion skills.
What to do
- The activity should be preceded with some guidelines, and a discussion of why they are important. Guidelines should reflect the nature of the group involved, but could include:
- listen and respond respectfully to the views of others
- think about what others say
- speak only when nominated by the teacher
- check that you have understood someone else by using reflective listening techniques
- Students should understand the difference between a discussion and an argument, and everyone should feel free to share their views.
- Clear some space in the classroom where students can move around freely.
- Label one side of the room with the word agree; the other side with disagree; and the middle area with unsure.
- Read out a statement and ask students to move to the area which represents their view on the issue.
- You may need to read the statement out a couple of times whilst the students think and decide. Don’t change the statement or explain it. If students do not understand, they should stand in the unsure area.
- Move around the room, asking students to give reasons for their views. Challenge their opinions and encourage other students to do so as well. The purpose of this is not to put the students’ opinions down, but to facilitate discussion.
- If students are swayed in their initial position by the discussion, they move to the appropriate area.
- Continue with other statements.
- Conclude the activity with feedback to the students about the discussion skills they have displayed.
- Follow up with other sessions on any misinformation that has emerged.
- Debate one of the issues that has generated a lot of discussion on both sides.
- Use one of the issues as a topic for a written argument.
Discuss it sample statements
- All shop signs in Australia should be in English only.
- Australia has lots of space and we should share it with people from war-torn countries.
- People shouldn’t be allowed to come to Australia unless they speak English.
- Detention centres should be banned.
- Australia Day should be celebrated on a different date.
- There is nothing I can personally do about racism.
- People who migrate to Australia should leave their old culture behind.
- Migrants from the same country shouldn’t be allowed to live together in the same location – they should be spread out.
- Having a diverse population makes Australia an interesting place to live.
Adapted from a Living in Harmony Funded Project, ‘Culture is Cool’, Narre Community Learning Centre, VIC, 2003