August 29, 2023
Discussion skills are high-stakes, teachable, and uniquely human: Why don’t we explicitly teach them in school today?
A great discussion is a human experience. You think deeply, express yourself intentionally, abide by nuances of others’ reactions, and build relationships in the process. Often, a discussion is dialectical—someone expresses a thesis, someone else an antithesis, and then a synthesis or compromise emerges; made possible because of that contrast in perspectives (and the human courage it took to articulate and engage them). A great discussion is a generative, cognitive, social, and emotional experience all at once.
The ability to engage in a discussion like this is a uniquely human skill. Monkeys are sentient—they have feelings and self-awareness—but they lack language as sophisticated as humans. AI has seemingly infinite language but is not sentient. AI tools like ChatGPT are trained to recognize and mimic human emotion but they will never have the sensory capacity to read body language or hear shifts in the tone of your voice (prosody).
Discussion is how the world works: discussion leads to decision-making in schools, government, business, medicine, law, domestic life, and the list goes on. Talking and listening to each other is how we…