the “free speech zone” is tough

In my class I’ve been working so hard to establish a “free speech zone,” but I think I goofed up when I pressed a student for evidence to back up some claims that police brutality is the same as it always has been. I believe I inhibited the students’ feeling of not being judged rather than making the “zone” a safe place. It’s a fine balance between free speech with rebuttal and “chilling” a conversation, which by definition has to allow dissent even when the topic is uncomfortable. I’m still trying to negotiate that fine line. Hopefully, this class of freshmen writers, which has been VERY enthusiastic, beyond all my expectations, will continue to feel the class is open and that they can explore their first attempts at reasoning on issues, no matter how tentative and perhaps uninformed, without feeling silenced. I’m committed to this pedagogy, but it’s hard to do sometimes.

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