ENG 4U 2011: The Fine Art of Conversation

One of my favourite historians is Theodore Zeldin, chair of History at Oxford University. I would seriously consider exchanging my right arm for the rights to claim that I authored Zeldin’s book An Intimate History of Humanity.  I say this for two reasons:

  • I am left-handed, which makes my right arm the obvious choice for this arrangement
  • In An Intimate History of Humanity, Zeldin uses conversation as a way to demonstrate the underlying (and often hidden) historical contexts that make us who we are

Zeldin works on the premise that the best conversations occur when we begin “with a willingness to emerge a slightly different  person.” This requires meaningful contribution and effective, purposeful listening. It also requires a fundamentally different approach than the traditional factory-model classroom setup.

Here is an example of how this kind of approach is changing education. The following is from the TEAL lab at MIT. Perhaps you have heard of it; it is kind of a big deal.

To add greater depth to our discussions, our group leaders will work with the following document called Leading Tutorials: Moderating Discussions.


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