Key Coverage

Students Learn to Put the ‘Civil’ in Civil Discourse

Inside this high school at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, teenagers are immersed in a project with the potential to temper the divisiveness that is consuming U.S. politics. They’re learning to have calm, balanced conversations about controversial issues.

In two very ordinary classrooms here, students are aware that they’re trying to do something extraordinary, something many adults around them seem unable to do: study a problem, understand the arguments on all sides, and discuss it together to see what solutions might work best for the country. Educators around the country who are involved in teaching these civil-discourse skills say the need for them has become especially urgent as increasingly heated political rhetoric exposes the degree to which Americans are polarized and free-speech rights are under fire.