Toward a More Perfect Union
in an Age of Diversity
Guidelines for Study Circle Participants
The goal of a study circle is not to learn a lot of facts, but rather to
deepen understanding and judgment, and to think about ways to make a
difference on a community issue you care about. This can occur in a safe,
focused discussion when people exchange views freely and consider a variety
of views. The process -- democratic discussion among equals -- is as
important as the content.
The following points are intended to help you make the most of your study
Make a good effort to attend all meetings. The comfort level and depth of
conversation depend upon familiarity with other participants.
Think together about what you want to get out of your conversation.
Help keep the discussion on track. Make sure your remarks are relevant.
Speak your mind freely, but don't monopolize the conversation.
Listen carefully to others. Try to really understand what they are saying
and respond to it, especially when their ideas are different from yours. Try
to avoid building your own arguments in your head while others are talking
-- if you're afraid you'll forget to make a point, write it down.
Be open to changing your mind. This will help you really listen to others'
When disagreement occurs, don't personalize it. Do keep talking, and
explore the disagreement. Search for the common concerns beneath the surface.
Don't waste time arguing about points of fact. For the time being, you may
need to agree to disagree and then move one. You might decide to check out
the facts together before your next meeting.
Value one another's experiences. Think about how your own experiences have
contributed to your thinking.
Help to develop one another's ideas. Listen carefully and ask clarifying