Toxic settings not for discussion


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever been in a situation where you are in a conversation with someone who refuses to listen to your side? A conversation with someone who makes it incredibly difficult to have a productive and meaningful dialogue? Oftentimes, it is impossible to voice your opinion and perspective, leaving you feeling unheard and unseen. 

Multiple courses offered at Fremont High School, mainly literature and history classes, include discussions where students are given the opportunity to converse and build off of one another based on a provided topic.

Some conversations are tougher than others by default. Conversations regarding culture and places of ethnicity can be an even touchier subject. With a 81.4% minority enrollment, according to US News, this is extremely prevalent at FHS.

Invalidation of a person’s emotions and story can lead to self-doubt and confusion. This can make it harder and harder for them to speak up for themselves. 

These unhealthy environments can be caused by a multitude of factors. Poor teacher supervision, lack of acceptance and fixed mindsets all contribute to a hostile conversation. Lack of acceptance and fixed mindsets can very well be due to an absence of knowledge on the topic. 

Before forming an opinion, it is important to have a clear and factual understanding of the subject. This allows for as little bias as possible and allows for an informed, fruitful conversation. When in discussion, it is also vital to acknowledge the possibility of being wrong and to be open to the other side of an argument. 

It can be difficult to accept that you may have been incorrect or hurtful in a past discussion. In the future, it may help to give others the opportunity to speak and validate their side, even if in disagreement. It can also be uncomfortable to be invalidated. If the moderator of the discussion is unaware that you are feeling ignored, it can be useful to let them know your perspective, as well as let the person who is not listening know how they are affecting you. 

We have all felt unheard before, some experiencing it on a grander scale than others. Acceptance of different sides allow for you to shape a more holistic view of the content being discussed and create a more positive environment for those vulnerable.