Facilitating Through “Perfectly Logical Explanations”

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This short document from the Commission for Social Justice Educators gives a concise description of strategies of multipartiality in discussion facilitation as a way to challenge dominant narratives that students have internalized and tend to reproduce in the classroom. Unlike impartial facilitation in which the instructor aims to be neutral towards all narratives, multipartial facilitation takes into account how dominant narratives already have significant weight and power in the classroom as the students have internalized the logic and assumptions of these narratives. A multipartial facilitator’s responsibility is to address the weight and power of dominant narratives by inviting participants to analyze the assumptions and limitations of their thinking and encourage the contribution of counternarratives. This is not to be confused with a partial approach where an instructor would advocate for particular perspectives.

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Dominant Narratives

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Overview

This guide provides a discussion-based lesson plan on dominant narratives. A dominant narrative is an explanation or story that is told in service of the dominant social group’s interests and ideologies. It usually achieves dominance through repetition, the apparent authority of the speaker (often accorded to speakers who represent the dominant social groups), and the silencing of alternative accounts. Because dominant narratives are so normalized through their repetition and authority, they have the illusion of being objective and apolitical, when in fact they are neither. This discussion guide will help students recognize dominant narratives, how they are perpetuated, and how and whom they benefit/harm.

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Perfectly Logical Explanations

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Overview

This discussion guide is intended to serve as an example of how to engage with “perfectly logical explanation” or dominant narratives (well-known and widely accepted explanations or narratives that are typically in service of the interests and ideologies of dominant social groups) raised in classroom discussion. While the guide below specifically uses a discussion about the representation of women in video games as an example, it is designed to exemplify the kinds of questions that could be raised to critically interrogate any dominant narrative. For more information about Perfectly Logical Explanations (PLE) and the related concepts of multipartiality and powerbalancing, view: http://www.academia.edu/11240620/Facilitating_through_perfectly_logical_explanations_and_other_challenging_participant_comments

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