Students in the Great Debates in American History course continue to put their speaking and communication skills to the test during Distance Learning. This is the first year this Grade 12 course has been offered at Fontbonne. It is taught by Ms. Liz Pilla. Ms. Barbara Ryder, our Assistant Head of School was instrumental in adding the class to the curriculum.
Students have been focusing on our current situation as they learn to analyze issues and come up with solutions. They recently debated the role of the national and state governments in the Coronavirus crisis. The question was "Should the national government impose more restrictions and supply more aid to people, businesses, and states than it has done so far, or whether it has done enough and the rest is up to the states." The students had researched and debated on previous crises in American history--the Great Depression, for example--and how the role of the national government changed during these times.
Last week they researched the current crisis of the spread of the Coronavirus, a complex task given the changing nature of the situation, and then they debated the question in groups For and Against. They skillfully raised historical, economic, ideological, and moral points on both sides of the issue. The debate reflected their extensive research and their admirable engagement about this most important time in America and the challenges it poses for our governmental structure and for our beliefs as a society.
Two seniors share their thoughts on the recent debate and how it has been experiencing the course virtually:
I found the Coronavirus Debate that we did in class very engaging because we were able to research the National and State Government Involvement in a Pandemic and the impact that it has on a national scale. This is history in the making and we are able to discuss this event in class, which is incredible!
Debate prep outside! In general in the debates class, but especially during the Coronavirus Debate, I have learned a lot. This debate encouraged me to keep up with current events which I love to do, but also forced me look back into the history of the United States and do some research about past situations that are similar to the pandemic that we are living through today. With such a broad topic, I was able to learn more about the Constitution, the history of our country, keep an open mind and be respectful in terms of what the other side of the debate thought should be done in response! I love this class because it forces me to look into and research what both sides think of each issue in order to have a successful debate. Although I may not agree with someone’s opinion, through this class I have learned to try to understand why they think what they do and this is a skill I will carry with me through life.