TED : Ideas worth spreading

Review: Take “the Other” to lunch

Speaker: Elizabeth Lesser
TEDWomen 2010
Date: December 2010
Location: Washington, DC

Description from TED website:
There’s an angry divisive tension in the air that threatens to make modern politics impossible. Elizabeth Lesser explores the two sides of human nature within us (call them “the mystic” and “the warrior”) that can be harnessed to elevate the way we treat each other. She shares a simple way to begin real dialogue — by going to lunch with someone who doesn’t agree with you, and asking them three questions to find out what’s really in their hearts.

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My Review / Notes / Thoughts

While this talk is over a decade old, I have to say it is still extremely relevant (if not more so) for today. In this age of name-calling and party bashing, perhaps we need to listen more intently to Ms. Lesser’s talk. Not merely listen though, we need to put it into practice.

I believe this is an EXCELLENT talk to spark a variety of activities for student engagement both in and out of the classroom. It might even help our campus communities to bond and grow stronger and more understanding.

She provides a real-life example of her implementing her initiative of “Take the Other to Lunch.” She and the lady she conducted this lunch with set a goal:

“[G]et to know one person from a group you may have negatively stereotyped.”

With this goal in place, they came up with some ground rules (a wise decision and an important component in order to keep lunch civilized). The rules were:

“Don’t persuade, defend or interrupt; be curious, be conversational, be real; and listen.”

The questions that they then pursued in their lunch conversation were:

1. Share some of your life experiences with me.
2. What issues deeply concern you?
3. And what have you always wanted to ask someone from the other side?

Of course, it would be easy enough to have students discuss all of this in a discussion forum. But I think if I were to implement this as a class activity, I would make it more interactive. I would require that they actually go out and have lunch with someone and then write a paper about what occurred, what thoughts went through their mind, their feelings before and after the conversation.

I think it would be great to teach our young people that it is OK for others to have opinions that do not align with yours … and it is OK to be friendly with those people.

What are your thoughts? How could you see leveraging this talk to engage your students?

Until next time … live long life-learner!

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