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Starting a Dialog

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: December 29, 1999
E-Mail Curran or Takata.

Starting a Dialog

If starting a dialog is new to you . . .
What's the purpose of the dialogs?
Some sample openings to dialogs

We offer questions to spark ideas, but we really do mean just to get you to think. We pretty much know what the concepts are, how we used them in the lectures. We're asking you to process that information, incorporate them into your knowledge, with whatever focus makes sense for you, and then to give us a brief summary of details that lets us see that you understand how to use the concept or discuss the issue.

If starting a dalog is new to you:

What's the purpose of the dialogs?

One important pursuit of knowledge involves the ability to follow and participate in academic discourse. Because you are undergraduates, this appears intimidating at first. But it's not. It's just like cocktail conversation; only you have to know a little more. If you wanted to engage in brilliant cocktail conversation, you might want to brush up on the latest best sellers, the latest plays, the latest nightclubs, whatever, depending on the cocktail setting. If you want to engage in brilliant academic discourse, then you need to brush up on the latest issues we're likely to be discussing. Lectures and texts will help you do that.

No one I know ever took a test at a cocktail party. And no one in our classes is allowed to be a wallflower. So you can't fail at this, if you engage in the interaction. Your main tasks are to read and attend lectures and discussions, so that you have something of substance to talk about; and talk to us.

Not everyone is comfortable speaking out in class. We understand. But it is terribly important that you do speak to us. Even though the dialogs must be documented by e-mail so that we have class records, we need faces to go with the names. Why? Because your learning is unique to you, and we can teach you best if we know you.

Conversation, including academic conversation, is one of the ways in which we form bonds within our community. Students today have many commitments, and crises come at odd moments. You will find it easier to manage those crises and to stay in school, when you have bonds with others in the academic community. (Reference: Durkheim, on the importance of such bonds) This is called "retention," and is an important mission for all colleges as we enter the 21st Century.

Some sample openings to dialogs:

Developing a dialog by answering questions. Be sure to read the whole dialog!