Healthy Disagreement

On the heels of last week’s 29-29 tie in Green Bay, I was privy to two students’ animated disagreement as to which fan base should feel more dissatisfied by the outcome. The VIkings fan claimed that he “could have made that chip shot blindfolded” and the Packers fan was positive that “Cousins could and would never complete that pass to Thielen again”. After a little more back and forth, the duo concluded that each had had a presumed victory slip away from their beloved teams, and both smarted similarly. “At least we’re both 1-0-1”, one of them shared. The other grinned and responded, “Yeah, could be worse.”

I love the sound of healthy disagreement, and I am witness to it on a consistent basis when I open the doors to our many classrooms. Fifth graders in Mr. Jones’s science class going back and forth as to whether astronomy or astrology is the correct term to use. Eighth graders in Sra. Kieger’s Spanish class debating (in the target language) whether there are merits to having a uniform. Seventh-grade history students openly disagreeing about which of our founding ideals is most crucial in today’s society. And that was just yesterday.

While the stakes of such debate may be on the low end of a spectrum, the skills that come with responsibly engaging are of the utmost importance as we commit to preparing our students for their lives at and beyond Breck. We look to instill in them that creative friction, for instance, is often a path to a better product or new solution, that healthy disagreement with friends deepens one’s understanding of them, and that there is much to learn from having our ideas challenged. That’s a lot for middle schoolers to wrap their heads around, for they are at an age when flying under the radar is atop their self-established list of responsibilities.

Hearing such disagreement makes me proud. How so? I’m proud that our students have the confidence to speak up and share their thoughts and opinions. I’m proud that our students possess an openness to new ideas and a willingness to consider other lenses, however disparate they might be from their own. Lastly, I’m proud that Breck has a faculty that provides safe places for our students to express these thoughts. Safe places in which they can learn that much more about others as a means of better understanding themselves.



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