Reading, Writing…and Talking: What if America Had a National Conversation Skills Curriculum? (Summer Series) | Liza Garonzik | 8 Min Read

July 26, 2023

In what feels like a divided, screenbound world, here’s something I think most Americans would agree on: we need to re-learn how to talk (and listen) to each other. How can we do that? One step would be to make the instruction of conversation skills a national priority. 

Why? Discussion skills are democracy skills. They are workplace skills. They are relationship and wellbeing skills. And our citizens — particularly, our children and young adults — don’t have them. 

Conversation is how democracy, work, school, and life happen.

Several recent studies have brought this national conversation crisis into sharp relief, both in terms of what a communication skills deficit means for individual lives and broader society.

At an individual level, conversation is how humans connect with each other — it’s how we feel seen, heard, trusted, and loved. Today’s headlines document a stunning sense of disconnectedness: increased sadness, hopelessness, alienation, and violence among youth, especially among adolescents who identify as girls and LGBTQ. Elsewhere, research on men and boys also documents increased alienation and decreasing pro-social behaviors. The Surgeon General’s two recent reports to the nation declare an “

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Liza Garonzik

Liza Garonzik is the Founder of R.E.A.L. Discussion, a program that trains faculty to (re)teach Gen-Z students the discussion skills they need for success in learning — and real life. Her work is informed by an interdisciplinary research base and experience as a student, teacher, administrator, and trustee in diverse independent schools. Get in touch at [email protected] — there's little she loves more than a great conversation!