Discussing National Events in Your Classroom

Author: 
Linda Hasunuma and Naomie Nyanungo
Justice and Inclusion
Discussing National Events in Your Classroom

When there is a major national event, such as the Chauvin trial and verdict or the mass shootings in Atlanta and Indianapolis, students may look to us to provide greater context and perspective as they process these difficult moments. Students appreciate when faculty acknowledge what has happened. Acknowledgement can come in many forms, and can range from a moment of silence or allowing space for written reflection to class discussions (Huston and DiPietro 2017). Even if you are not an expert on the issue or it feels like it is outside of your discipline, your acknowledgement of the event and the emotions around it signals to your students that you care about them. Engaging students in discussions about these events can deepen learning and contribute to your students’ intellectual and emotional growth as they consider perspectives different from their own, and learn how to engage in these dialogues in a productive way. To prepare for these deeper discussions, we recommend that you make a plan and create ground rules with your students for respectful discussion together. To make space for these critical conversations with your students, we offer some helpful practices about how to prepare for them and manage any hot moments that may arise in our Equity Blog Series.
 

We also recommend directing your students to resources at the Wellness Center and, Temple’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Leadership (IDEAL). IDEAL has several programs such as their Black in America series and Timely Topics, for those seeking deeper conversations and community on matters related to race and justice. Please see their latest email in response to the Chauvin verdict for more information.

 

If you would like to discuss any of these issues further and think through how you can create brave and inclusive spaces for such conversations in your classes, we invite you to make an appointment with one of CAT’s faculty developers for a one-on-one consultation.

 

Linda Hasunuma and Naomie Nyanungo work at Temple University's Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

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