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Thought-leaders recently gathered on the BASIS Independent McLean campus to discuss the decline of civil discourse and what we can and must do to cultivate civil discourse in high school and college-aged students.

Watch the highlights!

The evening kicked-off with Pano Kanelos, President of St. John’s College in Annapolis, sharing the importance of the speaking city, fueled by civil discourse. Pano’s remarks were followed by a panel discussion and thought-provoking questions from the audience. The panel was moderated by Ian Lindquist, Executive Director of the Public Interest Fellowship, and included Debra Mashek, Executive Director of Heterodox Academy; Robert A. George, member of the New York Daily News Editorial Board; and Peter Bezanson, CEO of BASIS.ed.

On the decline of civil discourse, Pano Kanelos shared, “It is not coincidental that we’ve seen the disintegration of discourse and the rise of social media. I mean, end stop…It puts us in a fake conversation with people who are not real to us…We can’t have civil discourse if we can’t look each other in the eyes.

Deb Mashek’s advice on how to remedy the decline of civil discourse included, “Everyday at least once a day say how do you see it and I don’t know.

Questions from the audience included: What has been the effect of phrases like political correctness? How do I express my point of view at school without singling myself out?

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Please enjoy highlights from the Learning to Argue panel discussion presented by BASIS Independent McLean and St. John’s College.

Watch the highlights!


BASIS Independent McLean is committed to civil discourse. The 2019-20 school year will bring a new program to our campus, The Academy at BASIS Independent McLean. The Academy offers a primary-text, seminar-based, writing-intensive approach to the study of English and history. The program will be available to BASIS Independent McLean students in grades 8-12, starting with students in grades 8-10 in the fall of 2019. The Academy deeply prepares students for college-level analysis, writing, and discourse.