THE RAMBLINGS OF
The two of us have noticed that many of our elementary students have trouble navigating a disagreement. This is not to say that every student we come across struggles with the concept, however, there are a number of individuals that have a tendency to take disagreement personally or consider it to be a challenge of right or wrong.
We feel that some basic guidelines might help students when navigating a disagreement with their peers. Of course, grade level and age affect how the content is presented but essentially the approach comes down to staying calm and listening. Our three-step plan is as follows:
Step 1: Listen
Here, we defer to Webster’s definition “to pay attention to sound”. The key word in this clarification is “attention”. Take turns and focus on the other person’s point of view. Effective listening is not remaining silent to plan what you will say next but to understand the other person’s perspective.
Step 2: Consider
Now that they have listened to an alternative perspective, we ask them to consider it. Put themselves in the other person’s position. Try to understand WHY the other person is thinking this way and if there is validity to their argument in comparison to their own.
Step 3: Acknowledge
There can be more than one way to acknowledge disagreement. There is the possibility that one of the parties will see the misunderstanding or alternative view and both will come to an agreement about the topic. Also, there might not be an agreement other than to confirm that they hear each other but still hold their own belief. Our hope is to teach them that there are times that they will “agree to disagree” and that’s perfectly acceptable and perhaps more mature than agreeing for agreement’s sake. The point is that both individuals understand that there are different ways to view things and the move forward without ill will.
While these are simple rules for disagreement, we believe it is a solid framework that allows students to understand how to appropriately disagree with another.