At De La Salle Academy (DLSA), a middle school in New York City, all incoming 6th grade students are required to take a course called “Public Speaking and Debate,” in which the students learn key elements of traditional debate.
But after DLSA teacher and Civic Spirit Scholar Mr. Wilson Martinez participated in a day-long training with Essential Partners, he realized he needed to integrate dialogue into the course as an alternative form of communication. Specifically, he introduced a unit that explores civil discourse, encouraging students to compare debate with dialogue with a focus on tone of voice, questions of inquiry, and collaborative thinking. Mr. Martinez then introduced dialogue and listening exercises into other courses he teaches, such as World Language, and to multiple disciplines including his colleagues in the Mathematics department. The practice of civil discourse now infuses many of the required courses at DLSA.