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An Interesting Devil’s Strategy to Teach at School

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Devil’s Strategy: Regina, a fifth-grade student, was deeply moved by her teacher’s lesson on how the words we use influence our perceptions of the world. She now realizes that using words like “gay” and “retarded” in a pejorative sense is cruel to gay people and people with disabilities. She is disturbed whenever her friends use these words, but she is afraid to speak out against them. Should she intervene?

Life is more than the simple classifications of right and wrong or good and bad. An ideal school acts as a window to real life for its learners. Instructing children on math and sciences in compliance with the majority is easy but teaching them to think independently and stand for it is an altogether different playing field. One of the most difficult elements involved in teaching morals is that no single right answer exists. Teaching a child to exercise his moral reasoning may prove invaluable to his development and that’s what every educator should strive for in the everyday teaching-learning process. One such active learning strategy is ‘Devil’s Advocate.’

Devils Strategy

Who’s the DEVIL?

  • A devil’s advocate role is typically played by an individual who provides alternative perspectives and solutions to problems, frequently challenging group assumptions.
  • Playing devil’s advocate means a teacher or student takes the opposing side of the predominant argument.
  • It may not change the students’ minds, but using the devil’s advocate approach challenges them to expand their analysis, perspective, and understanding of an issue.

Benefits of the Devil

The utility of a teaching strategy is measured by its contribution to the overall goals of helping students learn to analyze logic and assumptions, critique the validity and soundness of arguments, and come to a true understanding. Devil’s Advocate as a learning strategy does the same.

In every high school lesson taught, integrating elements of the devil’s advocate approach facilitates students’ critical thinking skills and enhance their engagement in the lesson.  The approach can be used through discussion or could be applied to textual analysis with guiding questions and texts from multiple and contentious viewpoints. If students are not challenged by the devil (their teacher or one another) to defend their stance on an issue, the quality of analysis will often be superficial. Critical thinking skills developed in the classroom through the devil’s advocate approach also help students outside of school because it makes you think. It teaches students to always have evidence before speaking and you get used to doing it even outside of school.

Why the Devil’s Advocate Strategy is Best for Today’s Academic Expectations

The devil’s advocate method aids in developing critical thinking abilities while also keeping students interested in their lessons. Playing the devil’s advocate helps the teacher prove various points and keeps the class lively while teaching students how to back up their claims. The back-and-forth aspect of this kind of conversation prevents students from being passive; instead, they become a little uneasy and are eager to hear what comes next or want to participate themselves. When this strategy is applied in the classroom, it gets learners motivated to a point where the students strive hard to prove their points supported by valid evidence.

The devil’s advocate method can be used in the teaching toolkit by all teachers. Teachers can raise the conversation in their classrooms to support critical thinking by fostering a setting based on respect for one another and cooperative learning. Teachers can accomplish this by bringing up contentious topics, presenting multiple viewpoints, and posing difficult questions to their learners. Students will acquire more in such a classroom and their writing and critical thinking abilities will flourish.

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