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Argument, Bigotry or Personal Attack?
Teaching session

Argument, Bigotry or Personal Attack?

About session

Objective

  • The students are able to discuss the differences between an argument, bigotry and a personal attack. The students are able to conduct democratic conversations and analyze public debate and argumentation.

Exercise in analyzing the level of factuality in debates and discussions. The students practice distinguishing between arguments, bigotry and personal attacks.

When debates and discussions are heated, the argumentation can often become less factual, and sometimes even turn into personal attacks instead. If the discussion no longer revolves around the subject, but the goal seems to be to beat each other down, it is impossible to move forward. At the same time, it is not always easy to know what concerns the subject, and what concerns the person. Sometimes, one might get the feeling that people get offended just because someone has a different opinion than them. However, an offence demands that it was the person, not the subject, that was attacked. Because of this it is important to be able to distinguish between an argument, bigotry and a personal attack.

Time:
30 - 60 min
Group size:
1 - 35

Preparation

In this exercise the students are working with statements from the worksheet below (either on paper or digitally).

Worksheet: Argument, bigotry or personal attack?

FileDocument

Arbeidsark til "Saklig innspill, usaklighet eller personangrep"

Terms

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Fact, opinion or prejudice?

Video
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Implementation

  • 1

    Distribute the worksheets among the students

  • 2

    Assess the statements

    Assess and mark which category each statement on the worksheet belongs to: argument, bigotry or personal attack?

  • 3

    Discuss the statements in groups

    Ask the students to present and discuss their placements in groups of 3-4 students.

  • 4

    Find their own examples

    Ask the students to find other examples of bigotry or personal attacks in ongoing debates. The students should then suggest how these could be expressed differently, in a way that would be a factual argument and relevant to promote their opinion.

    Finally, let the students discuss how they experience the nature of current debates. Is it mostly factual or is bigotry and personal attacks notably present?

Concluding reflections

Make the students reflect upon the criteria for a good, democratic conversation or debate. One could use current examples (for example recordings of debates) as a starting point for reflections. It is also possible to compare this to the examples the students came up with in the previous activity.