Nearly 40 parents, students, and faculty members gathered for the Cville OneBook "Tools for Handling Difficult Discussions" workshop on Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Belfield Campus.
Cville OneBook is a local movement that has been fundraising for more than a year to provide 2,500 copies of The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas to young readers in Charlottesville. The organization also holds discussions, forums, and other programming to allow students to process and respond to the novel together.
"We wanted to buy books for young adults and young readers to promote openness to having these kinds of conversations. You're some of the smartest people in our community, we want to learn from you," Learning Village Librarian Sarah FitzHenry, who is a member of the Cville OneBook Committee, said to the crowd, about half of which were students.
Upper School Humanities teacher and Dean of Faculty Development (Grades 9 - 12) Laura Robertson led the workshop, starting with a brief presentation on how to discuss tough topics. The workshop served as an opportunity to discuss the importance of and provide tools for having challenging conversations, and then actually participate in one.
"Typically, the difficult conversations tend to be about the more contentious topics like race, gender, class, and politics," Robertson noted. "I'm really lucky in that I've gotten to learn a lot from my students about how to have challenging conversations. In my experience, they are better at it than adults are."
Participants were then divided into five groups and given some questions and tips to discuss the book, including identifying your own biases, acknowledging that everyone's voice is important, and asking clarifying questions.
"A common theme our group came up with was talking to people who you normally wouldn't talk to about an issue, so not necessarily preaching to the choir, but expanding your circle instead," said student participant Andreas Rivera Young '20.
Cville OneBook will be hosting other events locally; visit www.cvilleonebook.com to learn more.