Learning about Issues through Discussion in the Primary Social Studies Classroom: A Shared Inquiry Approach, pp. 8 of 16

Disposition is the proclivity to think or act in a certain manner. Dillion (1994 in Walsh & Sattes, 2015, pp 51-52) identifies several dispositions that support productive discussion and these are “reasonableness, peacefulness, orderliness, truthfulness, freedom, equality, respect for others, … responsiveness, judiciousness, reflectiveness and evidence.” Costa and Kallick (2014 in Walsh & Sattes, 2015, p 52) also draw up a list of dispositions, namely, “perseverance, managing impulsivity, questioning, finding wonderment and awe, listening with understanding and empathy, drawing from prior knowledge and applying it to new situations, adventurous, risk taking, creating/imagining and innovating, striving for craftsmanship, using clear language, and metacognition.” It is important to focus on one disposition at a time and discuss with students what it looks and sounds like and make wall charts for display as reminders. It is also important to discuss why such a disposition can contribute to fruitful discussions. With explicit teaching, modelling and periodic self and class reflection, dispositions that promote quality discussion can be developed.  

Assigning students prep work

Students need to prepare for participation in discussions and teachers can help them do so by assigning them prep work. These include asking them to do the necessary readings, conduct a research on the discussion topic, think of questions to ask for the discussion, and respond in writing to teacher-initiated question prior to the discussion. It is important to consider the questions posed, student age and development level and discipline when assigning prep work.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!