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Yale Wang

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A discussion-style school club to address societal issues | possible activities include films, event updates, and a jam session

This conversation focuses mainly on teens and school clubs. Often, youth feel pressured from all sides, given assignments people often don't know how to do, and other issues faced in daily life. Communication issues between students and teachers get complex. So complex, in fact, that often I lose my own train of thought and start doubting that there's actually a problem. Yet, for the past year, I've had the resolve to start a new club at school, to discuss a variety of subjects.

People often feel very busy, and most dislike it strongly. So what if I created a club against busy-ness? The first name is the "Doofus club"--not many people like it, perhaps out of fear of being labelled. This has a history too, that name.

Maybe we're not ready to admit our collective weaknesses, nor discuss the fundamentals of human nature and society. Yet we see campaigns like Kony 2012: the main message in my opinion is the fact that any person can now spread an idea--although the focus on the "one man" was too concentrated, and problematic.

This is my first conversation post here, and hopefully not my last, so please be patient at all times.

In September, I created this list of potential discussion topics:
Cell phones
Cameras and use of technology
Non-sequitur: causes and implications
Significance of pyramids
What’s the weather like today?
Books we’ve read
People we’ve seen
Human psychology
Aspects of interpersonal discussion
Overcoming situations
Character: what is it?
Robots
Rumours you have heard about
Does religion exist?
Meta-analysis
How to start a conversation
Thinking: tips and tricks
Role of the police force
How to talk to people from Africa
Movies and junk
Recycling and food
Food and hobbies
Interests and symbols
Music and items
Fish and ammonia

Obviously, rather scattered, and I had food on my mind. However, this medium could serve as an important venue addressing near-ubiquitous problems such as bullying.

All are welcome to contribute ideas - metadiscussion!

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  • Apr 24 2012: Hi! I am a brand new member of this site (literally joined seconds ago to contribute to your discussion). About 6 months ago, I started running an after school club just as you discussed. As far as topics go... I've found that the selection happens one of two ways. One, I come prepared with a thought-provoking quote, article, or youtube video as a conversation starter. Two, one of the students brings up a topic, idea, or question that has been perplexing him or her and asks for input on how to further conceptualize it. Finding something to talk about isn't the hardest part, though.

    What's challenging is teaching people how to break free of the stereotypes and habits of mind that prevent a balanced and respectful conversation. Doing so has required me to look deep within myself, ask what assumptions or expectations limit my own perspective, and how I let go so my behavior and words coincide. I've come to realize that leading meaningful conversation requires a lack of ego and attachment to being right. It's important that the students know their creativity is meaningful and that their rights to be heard are valued. By holding them accountable to self and community-limiting behavior, I've removed the overt presence (me or hands up) of formal discussion so they practice listening and taking turns to speak without my assistance. I show them they are capable of practicing respect towards self and others by allowing them to speak from personal (not student) perspective. Sometimes this means they will swear, talk about God or being gay, or voice their belief that marijuana should be legalized. But, this has opened the door for critical and complex conversation I would never have imagined.

    What's the most challenging about running the group is establishing and maintaining trust. I do this through a belief that the role of teacher and student is meant to be fluid. Trust helps deepen our questions and our ability to transfer 'talk' into community action. Do you want more?