Our Values: Discussion Topics

What We Believe

  • We believe that student-driven discussions provide a rich learning opportunity.
    Students should be given the opportunity to freely share their perspectives, feelings, questions, and beliefs. Educators must make a concerted effort to create and sustain an environment that encourages this. Additionally, it is the responsibility of both teachers and students to ensure that this learning environment is a place where compassion, mutual respect, and our common humanity take centre stage in a productive and inclusive conversation.

  • We believe in the uniqueness of all students and the diversity of their ideas.
    Each one of us is made up of natural endowments and the sum total of our life experiences. These shape the unique perspective that we bring to the table. No two people are alike. The more divergent our background and experiences, the more likely our perspectives will differ. We believe that that richness, truth, and meaningful connection come from discussions that embrace this diversity.

  • We believe that conflicting doctrines share the truth between them.
    The truth emerges when all ideas are welcomed and subjected to well-intentioned criticism. Through this exchange, we integrate new perspectives and refine our understanding of the world. Dogmatic thinking recedes, and a more complex and nuanced reality emerges. Only then can we move beyond tribalism and compromise to build a better world.

How Those Beliefs Manifest

  • Strive to be free of bias in the aggregate.
    When we are creating a RoundTable topic for the Parlay community, we do our best to gather resources that explore a broad range of perspectives from reputable sources. This is especially true when we are covering challenging topics or current events. Of course, this is not easy because a) not everyone agrees on what is “reputable” and b) it’s sometimes difficult to find and therefore be selective about certain ideas / perspectives on a given topic. In addition, we strive to never make claims about what is true unless it is empirically uncontested or historically unambiguous, and necessary background information for the topic.

  • Ask fair and balanced questions.
    When writing discussion questions for RoundTable topics we do our best to ask open ended questions. Often, we ask students to reflect on their own personal experience, share their own opinion, formulate a coherent argument, or explore a wide range of possibilities. We avoid yes/no questions, elliptical questions, leading questions, and slanted questions as much as possible. We do not believe it is our place to lead students in a particular direction, but to give them information and provide them the space and the guiding hand of an educator (see below) to explore ideas openly.

  • Trust educators.
    Teachers know their students, their community, and their craft. All Parlay discussions come to students via their teacher. While we do provide resources to help teachers facilitate better discussions (software tools, discussion topics, instructional supports, etc.), we do not presume to have all the answers. That’s why all of the discussion topics we create are wholly editable by the teacher. They can change, add, or remove anything in a discussion topic to suit the needs of their students.

These values are not perfect; they are evolving. Similarly, we do not live up to them perfectly, but we are striving to. Life is difficult and messy, but rest assured that we are well-intentioned people who are doing our best. And, as always, we’re open to feedback.

Stay curious!

The Parlay Team

💻 📚 Check out Parlay Seminars! Our new virtual discussion-based literature courses for students.