Towards a More Civil Discourse

This month, Heads Up discusses the need for civil discourse inside and outside of the classroom.
As you are now probably aware, my spoken and written words at the beginning of the year have implicated character and its development at Cathedral School for Boys. In light of recent national events, we are trying to be much more mindful about articulating and modeling the types of behavior we expect from our students, and in fact, the entire school community this year.
 
To this end, we have decided to take a proactive approach to promoting and maintaining an environment of respectful dialogue at CSB. (We have always done this well, but the state of national political discourse reminds us that we should not take it for granted.) We want to encourage our students to form and express their opinions, especially on issues that they feel passionately about.  However, it is our expectation that we all engage in discourse that is intellectual, constructive, and respectful.  
 
Therefore, we recently outlined the following guidelines to our Upper School Boys, and I offer them to you for your consideration.  
  • Focus on issues and ideas rather than people and personalities.  
  • Support your positions, whenever possible, with research, facts, and data.
  • Remain open to opposing ideas, and recognize the right of others to hold positions that may be different than yours.
  • Treat opposing ideas, and those who hold them, with respect.  
  • Disagreement is acceptable, disrespect is not. 
  • If you feel you cannot speak respectfully, then you should not speak at all. 
 
(The irony, of course, is that we are holding the boys to a higher standard than that of many of our public figures!) Think about how much we can accomplish if our efforts at school correspond with our efforts at home.  
 
As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Best, 

Burns

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Cathedral School for Boys


1275 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone 415-771-6600
Fax 415-771-2547
Located in San Francisco, CA, Cathedral School for Boys is an independent elementary school for boys in grades K-8. Our mission is to provide an excellent education through intellectual inquiry and rigor that is centered in the Episcopal tradition and is respectful of and welcoming to people of all religious traditions and beliefs.