Mrs. Whitlock’s Courageous Conversations Webinar: Empowering Civic Virtue

Beloved upper school humanities teacher Mrs. Whitlock took to the stage last Tuesday in her Courageous Conversations webinar. You may ask: “What is a courageous conversation?” 

For starters, just as its name describes, it is a conversation that takes great courage. It can even apply to small-scale situations, such as one Mrs. Whitlock explains in which an individual reaches out to someone of an opposing political affiliation. This can also happen on a bigger scale, like writing a letter to your state representatives to thank them for passing or supporting a bill.

The 11th grade AP Lang class has been discussing what courageous conversations are and how to have them. The title of the book we’ve been reading, Love Your Enemies, is what it means to truly have courage. Mrs. Whitlock told us last Tuesday that we all have a responsibility to love our enemies and influence others to do the same. She started her speech with a personal story, something essential to evoking empathy in a person when having a courageous conversation. A personal story makes a conversation topic less abstract and more real. We tend to put people in a box, which reduces human dignity and makes us forget that almost everyone deserves empathy. Mrs. Whitlock then took us back to the beginning of the United States to when the founders created a platform of civic virtue. There is no doubt that there were problems with the country, but we have been able to grow more and more with every decade. 

Mrs. Whitlock introduced four crucial steps to having practical wisdom when it comes to exemplifying civic virtue:

  1. Emotional regulation
  2. Name goods in conflict
  3. Clarify blueprint for a flourishing life
  4. Choose well and recalibrate from your own life

The right to vote threads throughout history as the responsibility to participate in civic government. Mrs Whitlock spoke about how the diversity of core virtues has been present since the beginning of the United States. Compromise used to be more normal, but in recent years, contempt between political parties has caused division. In order to find compromise, we must first communicate. And to communicate, we must have these courageous conversations.

If you missed Mrs. Whitlock’s speech, be sure to check it out here:

Dani Iffih ’23 and Erica Brown ’22,