Monday, July 29, 2019

Sociological Debates

It's syllabus time. I'm working on my Introduction to Sociology syllabus, and nearly done. I only have about four open dates on the syllabus. This morning an idea occurred to me to fill those dates with sociological debates. I'll spread them throughout the semester and list them on the syllabus as "Sociological Debates: Topic to Be Determined." I'll solicit suggestions from students for topics.

Last time I structured a debate in class, students did a great job debating about athletes who silently protest by not standing for the anthem. It was easy to find students who wanted to take different positions in that debate.

I haven't decided the point value for this assignment, but I tend to make assignments like this low stakes to take the pressure off the situation. There are students who don't like to be in the spotlight in front of their peers. But an exercise like this is a good one for students thinking on their feet while they try to make a persuasive case. And the class as a whole gets to listen and take in various points of view from their classmates. It's also a productive way to engage with controversial topics.

I'm thinking I'll ask students to share the sources of information they use to help shape their arguments. I'm going to say something like "This isn't all about relying on your opinion or just winging it for a few minutes in front of class, or using theatrics." I want students to accumulate sources to prepare for these debates and to seriously engage with their peers on interesting and important topics of the day.