How to Get Every Student Talking | A Conversation with Stephen Brookfield

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I had a most lively and engaging conversation with Stephen Brookfield about The Discussion Book: 50 Great Ways to Get People Talking, his most recent book written with Stephen Preskill. I think of the book as a sequel or companion to their earlier, incredible Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms. Our conversation covered many topics: from the roots of Brookfield’s interest in discussion (his own difficulties as a student in high school and college) to how to define a good conversation (it’s not just a lot of smart-sounding talk) to how to avoid discussions where everyone merely agrees with one another to what to do when someone says something racist or sexist or homophobic. We also discussed why the use of protocols for discussions—the focus of this book, out of all the possible aspects of discussion it could have addressed—are such an important facet for successful discussions. In the conclusion to our conversation, Brookfield shared how, now in his 49th year of teaching, he still hopes to grow as a teacher and learn more about how to lead discussion well.

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