Section 4

Ways of presenting your point of view

Introduction

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:
  • supported pupils in expressing their points of view in speech and in writing;
  • developed your ability to help pupils understand other people’s situations, feelings and points of view;
  • used discussion to explore inclusion issues.
This section focuses on ways we express feelings and present points of view. It is important that teachers and pupils are able to do this with confidence, both in speech and in writing, in order to participate in decision-making in the family, school and wider community. As a teacher, you have an important role to play. You need to be able to argue your case within the school for such things as resources and ways of working, and also you need to support your pupils as they develop these skills. It is important that all pupils feel included in the classroom and community, regardless of their state of health, home circumstances or any disability.

Page 1

This part explores ways of working that will allow pupils to express their feelings and explore ideas about many things, including their personal lives. It looks at how to manage conflicts and frustrations more effectively. Often, when starting topics that touch on sensitive issues, it is helpful to let pupils explore their ideas privately first. Writing thoughts down around an issue can help to stimulate thinking. This is a technique that can also be applied to other topics to find out what pupils already know.

Case Study 1: Writing to express feelings and point of view

Vivian in Accra, Ghana, discussed with her junior secondary pupils the kinds of things that make children feel different and/or left out. Next, she asked them to look at a picture of a child sitting alone while others played (Resource 1: Child who is ‘left out’), and asked them to write about this child. She also asked them if they had ever felt left out or different from others in the past, or if they were feeling this way at present. She asked them to write about these feelings. Then they played games that helped them to experience what it was like to have a physical disability (see Resource 2: Games that promote understanding of physical disability). Afterwards, they talked about how such disabilities may make children feel different and sometimes cause them to be rejected by their classmates. They also talked about children who suffered from HIV/AIDS, or whose parents had died from that disease. Vivian asked them to write about their experiences during the games. What did it feel like to have a disability? After this, before starting a sensitive topic, Vivian often asked her pupils to write or talk in pairs or small groups to explore their own ideas first.

Activity 1: Writing to express ideas and feelings

When starting a sensitive topic with pupils it is useful to explore their ideas and feelings first. Select a picture, poem or story to stimulate their thinking (see Resource 1 for one example). Show the picture/read the poem or story and ask them to think about what it means to them. Ask them to write or talk with their partner about their thoughts and include their feelings as well. Remind them that no one will mark this or judge what they say to each other. It is for them to think about what they think and feel at that moment. Next, discuss with the class what they think the messages are in the picture.

Page 2

Learning how to participate in a debate helps pupils (and adults) to express their points of view, listen to the views of others and think critically. When you choose topics for debate in your classroom, make sure you choose topics that are important to your pupils so they will really want to express their points of view. In Activity 2 you will introduce your pupils to the rules and procedures for debating and support them as they prepare for a formal debate. In Case Study 2, the debate is on inclusion in the classroom. With younger children, you could hold very simple discussions or debates about issues such as not hitting each other. Resource 3: Structure of debating speeches and Resource 4: Rules and procedures for debating will give you guidance. You may also find these rules and procedures useful if you belong to organisations that need to conduct debates.

Case Study 2: Preparing for and conducting a debate

After Vivian and her pupils had written about being ‘left out’, they discussed specific children who were not in school for some reason. Some of these children were disabled, some had no parents and were heading households and some did not come to school because they were too poor to buy uniform. Vivian introduced the idea of debating to the class, and presented the motion: ‘This class moves that all “out-of-school” youngsters, isolated because of barriers to learning, should be brought to school.’ She grouped the 36 pupils into groups of six, and asked half the groups to discuss points in favour of the motion and half to discuss points against. Then she gave them a framework for preparing their speeches (see Resource 3). Each group drafted a speech, either in favour or against the motion, and chose a speaker from among their number. Vivian looked at the speeches at lunchtime, and gave speakers advice on how to improve them. They did more work on their speeches at home. The debate was held the next day. Vivian was very pleased with the high level of participation from all class members. The motion was carried, and pupils started making contact with out-of-school children, and working with their teacher and head teacher to bring them back to school. Vivian realised that the debate had provided an excellent opportunity for pupils to develop and express their points of view and for addressing an important community issue.

Activity 2: Debating a motion; expressing points of view

Explain to pupils about participating in a debate. Brainstorm debating topics that interest them and help them to express these in the form of a motion. Decide on the motion for debate (see Resource 3). Explain the rules and procedures for debating, using the information in Resource 4. Write the key rules and procedures on your chalkboard so that pupils can make a copy to refer to in future. Ask pupils to prepare the debate speech in groups and choose one speaker to present their arguments. You may have to help by providing background information for them to use in their speeches. You could also ask them to look for information from home for their speeches. Check if the groups are ready to start the debate (perhaps later in the week) and then follow the rules and procedures. Ask pupils to tell you what they have learned from the experience and use this information to plan future lessons and opportunities to discuss ideas. With younger pupils, you could debate topics that relate to school, such as whether they should have class rules. You may have to help them learn to take turns to speak and listen to others’ ideas.

Page 3

It is important to learn how to express a point of view clearly, with supporting arguments. This is a useful skill when writing student essays, but also, when older, if debating a community or national issue in a letter, particularly a letter to a newspaper. A letter to a newspaper can be compared to the first half of a debate. Often another person will respond to a published letter and will present alternative arguments. In Resource 5: Example letter there is a letter to a newspaper in which pupils write about the important issue of including all pupils in schools. Case Study 3 and the Key Activity offer you guidance for working with pupils to present arguments in the form of a letter.

Case Study 3: Learning to write a letter to the head teacher or a newspaper

A few months after Vivian first introduced the idea of inclusion to her pupils, there were two new pupils in her class. One was deaf, and the other had only one arm. She and her pupils were gradually learning to include them in their class, to communicate with them, and to support them without making them feel too ‘different’. She now suggested the pupils write a letter to the head teacher or a newspaper on the topic of the importance of including all pupils in school. They could send their letter to the head teacher or to The Daily Graphic in Accra. They would have to write in English. Pupils liked this idea and brainstormed what they could say. They produced an outline for the letter.
  1. Theme: Schools should make efforts to bring in ‘out-of-school’ youngsters.
  2. Reasons.
  3. Ways to counter the possible arguments against.
  4. Our experience.
  5. Successes and challenges.
  6. Repeat theme.
Vivian gave pupils guidance on the kinds of phrases to use, especially for 2 and 3, where they were presenting the argument. They asked a teacher who had access to a computer to type it, and sent copies to the newspapers (see the letter in Resource 5).

Key Activity: A letter to the head teacher or a newspaper to express a point of view

  • Take a topic your pupils have debated and introduce the idea of presenting their arguments in a letter to the head teacher or, if you have one locally, to a newspaper.
  • Ask them to brainstorm, in groups, what they wish to write.
  • Next, write the structure for the letter on the chalkboard using the outline in Case Study 3 (although your theme may be different).
  • Pupils may need to write this letter in an additional language (e.g. English) so give them some guidance on phrases to use for introducing and presenting arguments (see Resource 6: ‘Argument’ phrases).
  • Ask the groups to assess their own and each other’s letters, and decide which is the best one to send to the head teacher or newspaper (see Resource 6 for guidance).
  • You may need to do some editing before sending the letter, but try to keep the pupils’ words.
Think what your pupils have learned from turning debate arguments into a letter. With younger pupils or those less confident and competent at writing, you could do this as a class exercise where you write down their ideas. Use the activity to develop their vocabulary in the additional language.

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