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Free speech in the classroom: Eamonn Callan on helping students learn to argue with an open mind

October 2, 2017
“As soon as you can get your kids to ask ‘why’ questions, do it,” said Stanford education professor Eamonn Callan.
“As soon as you can get your kids to ask ‘why’ questions, do it,” said Stanford education professor Eamonn Callan. (Photo: Marc Franklin)
In this episode of School’s In, GSE professor and philosopher says allowing space for disagreement is “the core of the education worth having.”

How can teachers encourage students to advocate passionately for their beliefs and, at the same time, stay open to a different perspective?

“Provoke disagreement in class,” Stanford education professor Eamonn Callan said in this episode of School’s In. “Then try to get [students] to take those who disagree with them more seriously than they are intuitively inclined to do.”

Callan joined Graduate School of Education Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope in the studio to talk about free speech, critical thinking and whether all kids should join the debate club.            

“You only really learn how to refine your position when you start thinking about how it looks from the viewpoint of an adversary,” said Callan. “Then, of course, you might become convinced that your adversary is right—or at least that they’re 50 percent right. Then you have to open your mind.”

Listen from the link below, and find more episodes of School's In at the Stanford Radio main page. The show airs Saturdays on SiriusXM Insight Channel 121.