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Consensus-based decision making: A task for reconciliation (Brett Reynolds, Humber College, Canada)

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2:45 PM, Friday 30 Apr 2021 EDT (30 minutes)
  Virtual session
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Brett Reynolds, Humber College, Canada

Title: Consensus-based decision making: A task for reconciliation

Keywords: Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Indigenization; task; debate; consensus-based decision making


In response to the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, many educational institutions in Canada have undertaken to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into their curricula. With this in mind, I considered the EAP curriculum at Humber College and identified a debate task as an opportunity to do so.

Our EAP level 7 has had a formal European parliamentary debate task for a long time and there were a number of elements of it that I wanted to reconsider. I looked at the research on debate as a teaching tool in English-language education (of which there is surprisingly little) and more broadly at how debate does or does not foster critical thinking, taking into account recent research into the persistence of misperceptions.

An Indigenous alternative to this kind of debate is consensus-based decision making (CBDM), as practiced by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. I decided to try to implement a version of this in my class. This involved understanding how CBDM has traditionally worked, thinking about how it could be adapted to the EAP classroom under a task-based teaching framework, helping the students understand its Indigenous roots and its purpose in our class, identifying topics for discussion, and planning assessment, implementing it, and then evaluating the outcome. In this talk, I ask the audience to consider each of these aspects before laying out what I did.

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