BILLY BUDD, SAILOR, by Herman Melville

The high school literature group read Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville and prepared a roundtable discussion. We used the term “roundtable” loosely. Our goal was to create a situation that mimics life where they could practice defending an idea respectfully. I asked them to argue for and against an idea as if they were at a friends house for dinner. Prior to the discussion, I asked them to build arguments that could be proven with facts and not emotionalism.  This was very difficult for the person on a team that was arguing for a verdict that was opposite his personal opinion. One team argued that justice was served and murder was the correct verdict and the other team argued that injustice was served and manslaughter should have been the verdict.  

We are presented daily impromptu opportunities to discuss ideas with others who believe differently than we do. Learning to do this well is a skill that needs practice to perfect. Our goal was that simple. We have much to learn about argument style and rules but I am very proud of their attempt to respectfully defend a point of view using facts. At the end of the discussion everyone said they wanted to do this again!

Part I, Roundtable Discussion, Billy Budd, Sailor.

Part II, Roundtable Discussion, Billy Budd, Sailor.