The Harkness Method acts as a vehicle for students to interactively absorb subject matter and express diverse opinions. However, students at The Masters School and beyond struggle to find environments where they feel comfortable exchanging certain views without fear of judgement. Among the newest clubs at Masters, Next Generation Politics (NGP) facilitates discussions that encourage members to develop informed political opinions from factual perspectives.
“So many people are often unable, or just refuse to see other people’s perspectives from their point of view,” said Thomas Falci, co-president of NGP, reflecting on his initial inspiration to co-found the club. Falci, along with Amanda Taylor, started NGP with a goal to provide a form of political education within the school. On Delta Thursdays during lunch, NGP holds roundtable discussions where members can speak freely, and from informed perspectives.
“Thomas and I thought that there needed to be a space where people could take legitimate sources and have real information and text to backup their opinions,” Taylor stated. Prior to each meeting, the club leaders provide two news articles, representing two conflicting viewpoints on particular issues in current events. The objective is then for members to engage in discussions that elaborate on the readings, encouraging everyone to reflect upon their own views and others’. The club is currently discussing the various stances on Donald Trump’s wall.
While acting as the leaders of discussions, Taylor and Falci remain impartial within the club meetings, in order for conversations to be directed by other members. “By posing questions and adding concrete facts, we can spark opinions and thoughts, or shed greater light onto topics, without having our personal biases inflicted on people participating in discussion,” Falci said.
Not only does NGP allow members to form opinions based on text, but also to acknowledge and accept differing opinions among the school community–especially in Harkness settings. “Allowing there to be a space where both sides, both Republicans and Democrats and people on the spectrum, can hear the other side relieves tension and promotes healthier Harkness in general,” Taylor said.
“What I hope NGP’s effect on Harkness discussions will be is a greater ability for people to empathize with the other side in a debate,” Falci added. Other members agree that NGP’s discussions have the power to expose students to viewpoints that might not otherwise be shared in the classroom.
“Politics affect your life in every way possible,” Taylor said, “I want everyone to know that every voice matters and that everyone should be heard.” The co-presidents look ahead to the future of NGP, and how they hope to get more involved–they are currently organizing mock elections, legislative sessions, and debates to help Masters students develop deeper understandings of their political stances. They also plan to organize a voting registration drive for seniors in order to prevent ballot fatigue, or decrease the number of non-voters at Masters.