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Code of Conduct for the BLS Facing History / discussion board 2020-2021

Just as Boston Latin School seeks to be an environment in which all members of its community appreciate and respect one another, so too do these values permeate Facing History. It is obvious, given the difficult subject matter we will be exploring throughout the year, that we will have disagreements—often serious disagreements—about how we see issues. This extends to the discussion board. A core value of this course is that we will all agree to agree OR disagree respectfully with one another’s ideas, perhaps, but we will not criticize, dismiss, bully, or degrade one another as individuals either in or outside the classroom. Disagree with ideas, yes; hurl insults or what would be hurtful language at one another, unacceptable.

Moreover, Boston Latin School aspires to be antiracist in our individual interactions and collective actions and policies as a school community. To be clear, a racist idea is any idea that suggests that one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way. To be truly antiracist, we have to focus actively on ending racism. In this course, it is clear that we will be examining the history of overt and covert racism and discrimination in its all forms in many corners of the planet. While we will wrestle with this uncomfortable history, we must prioritize antiracist language, communication, and advocacy in our engagement with one another and in our interactions outside of class as well.

These values also extend to discourse on any form of social media that may be related to issues in this course and/or individuals participating in this course.

These core values will be upheld and enforced throughout the year in this course. It pertains to the discussion board as well as other forms of class discussion. It also extends to discourse on any form of social media that may be related to issues in this course and/or individuals participating in this course.

  1. Be prepared for online class discussions. Participate fully. Don’t just do the bare minimum—addressing the assignment—consider it done and not take an interest in what your classmates have to say! Revisit the board after you’ve posted and respond to others. Show that you’ve read other posts by responding to them in yours!

  2. Don’t let any one participant in the discussion board dominate. Take responsibility for asking questions, clarifying issues, etc. (not just of the instructor but of each other!).

  3. Take responsibility for making the discussion board work and succeed. To insure that, reciprocity and respect should govern our interactions with each other, in peer criticism, discussion, etc.

    Agree to disagree. Respect differing opinions and feelings. It is not always necessary to resolve differences but it is necessary to discuss and clarify the meanings and implications of differences when they happen. Remember that you can disagree with IDEAS and POINTS OF VIEW but you CANNOT ATTACK an individual personally OR criticize, dismiss, bully, or degrade one another as individuals or users on the site. Again, disagree with ideas, yes; hurl insults at one another as individuals, unacceptable.

    Keep in mind that there are many issues that will arise in this course that in fact have multiple positions that can be argued. That said, there are some issues that are not debatable. The existence of individual, structural, and systemic racism is not a debatable fact; the Rawandan genocide, the Holocaust: these are also not debatable facts. What to do about these realities is where we will no doubt encounter multiple perspectives and meaningful discussions.

  4. Recognize how “political correctness” operates and take responsibility for questioning and/or using it appropriately.

  5. Be honest about your point of view and support it with specifics. Defend the point of view if it receives criticism but again, avoid personal attacks (see #3, above).

  6. The discussion board can only exist as a safe space if participants respect it as such. All users are prohibited from taking screenshots of the discussion board and then posting them elsewhere on social media or any messaging services. All users are prohibited from discussing or quoting from the discussion board on any other form of social media. Violation of this rule is a violation of the terms of usage and may result in disciplinary action. In short, discussions about the topics on the discussion board stay within the discussion board for your class.

  7. Assume that a thoughtful discussion will break—at times--from the syllabus and periodically go off on tangents that are constructive and useful. Take a risk and follow the tangents but try to be responsible for relating the tangent to the issues at hands.

  8. Be responsible for helping to clean up difficult moments on the discussion board ASAP, rather than letting them fester.

  9. Recognize that everyone—everyone—has something valuable to contribute. Be patient!

  10. “Listen” to others’ posts in the way that you would want to be listened to. Do not pass judgment, trivialize, interrupt, etc. In discussion, try to refer to classmates and their opinions by his/her username name—not as “he said” or “she said” or “that guy with the weird username said…”

  11. Identify and encourage the positive rather than immediately focusing on the negative.

  12. People have the right not to have an opinion. But everyone has a responsibility to contribute to making the discussion a success by participating.

  13. If opinions, information, assignments, etc. are unclear, ask for clarification. Don’t be shy!

  14. Use our own experiences and speak in the first person as appropriate but don’t get stuck in your personal experiences as the only way of addressing a topic.

  15. Do not generalize. Avoid “we,” “they,” “some people,” “those people,” etc. Be explicit and clear in your references.

  16. Expect strong opinions and emotions. Don’t fear conflict but engage with it respectfully.

  17. Use the discussion board responsibly and respectfully. Don’t abuse the vehicle it provides you with to voice your opinion.

  18. Take risks regarding making mistakes. No question is a foolish question. Learn from the mistakes and the questions. Ideas, values, feelings are often fluid and can change.

  19. Take risks in taking on challenging topics. Your discomfort zone is also your learning zone.

  20. We will be tackling subjects that are sometimes difficult. Don’t be afraid to insert levity as appropriate, but…. respect the seriousness of many of the topics we are addressing and recognize that for some students, the topic at hand may be more personal and more disturbing than it is for others.

By registering, you agree to the Code of Conduct above.