“Mr. Kemp, what’s your opinion, your real opinion?”
I hear it often enough. I wait to hear their thinking and then purposely argue the other side. I don’t like the term the “devil’s advocate” because it appears inherently negative, when in fact, it engages. Sometimes there is nothing more engaging then waging battle. Intellectual battle.
Now, my wife and friends will probably tell you that this is nothing new for me, I constantly and consistently argue “for the sake of argument”. But it is even more pronounced.
Students catch on quick enough that I’ll argue both sides. They get frustrated with that, but naturally, it goads them. I like to think I don’t care what you think, just that you think. I’ve found myself arguing both sides in the same argument. Students love that.
So what’s the catch? I think students like to argue, especially with a willing adult adversary because it doesn’t happen often. They are often shut down before they get going.
But here’s the real catch when playing devil’s advocate. I say little. (Okay, I try to say little). I let the students do most of the persuading, the debating. It’s a well-timed, well-placed question or comment that can fire them up again.
The question is, what side are you arguing on today?
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