K-12 Education

How to Teach Middle School Students to Argue Better

May 12, 2021  • Citizenship and American Identity Program

Great schools and education can help students grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally. These moments of growth lead to others, sparking a positive cycle for students, teachers, parents, and communities. Yet as society grapples with deepening political and ideological divides, how are we raising and educating young people to understand and navigate relationships across differences? In school settings, if students are taught argument-related skills at all, the instruction is most often in the context of debating. Although there are benefits to this style of learning, the competitive nature of debate can be in direct opposition to how to engage more productively with diverse viewpoints in our everyday lives. To help bridge divides, the Better Arguments Project developed a middle school curriculum to help equip students not to have fewer arguments, but to have better arguments. In this sense, arguments don’t have to drive us apart. Better Arguments can bring us together.

The event features a panel discussion moderated by Roger Brooks, President and CEO of Facing History and Ourselves, featuring Dr. Robert Harvey, Chief Academic Officer with East Harlem Scholars Academies and Randy Lamberth, Assistant Principal with Simle Middle School.

The Better Arguments Project is a partnership between the Aspen Institute Citizenship & American Identity Program, Facing History and Ourselves, and Allstate. Funding for the Better Arguments Project’s education-facing work is made possible by the Bezos Family Foundation.