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The Open Hand

Arguing as an Art of Peace

By Barry M. Kroll

Publication Year: 2013

Based on five years of classroom experimentation, The Open Hand presents a highly practical yet transformational philosophy of teaching argumentative writing. In his course Arguing as an Art of Peace, Barry Kroll uses the open hand to represent an alternative approach to argument, asking students to argue in a way that promotes harmony rather than divisiveness and avoiding conventional conflict-based approaches.

Kroll cultivates a bodily investigation of noncombative argument, offering direct pedagogical strategies anchored in three modalities of learning—conceptual-procedural, kinesthetic, and contemplative—and projects, activities, assignments, informal responses, and final papers for students. Kinesthetic exercises derived from martial arts and contemplative meditation and mindfulness practices are key to the approach, with Kroll specifically using movement as a physical analogy for tactics of arguing.

Collaboration, mediation, and empathy are important yet overlooked values in communicative exchange. This practical, engaging, and accessible guide for teachers contains clear examples and compelling discussions of pedagogical strategies that teach students not only how to write persuasively but also how to deal with personal conflict in their daily lives.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-x

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1. Clapping In

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pp. 1-29

“Let’s begin,” I’d say, and all of us would clap our hands three times, in unison, twice softly followed by a louder third clap. In my course Arguing as an Art of Peace, I opened class sessions by “clapping in” with students, a ritual that signaled the beginning of our work for the day. I introduced this practice on the first day of the semester, evoking a few looks of confusion...

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2. Reframing and Deliberative Argument

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pp. 30-59

When we imagine a fight, most of us think about a face-to-face confrontation, an encounter in which combatants engage one another along a linear axis; it’s a structure we recognize from fistfights, duels, and showdowns in old western towns. To demonstrate the linear nature of a fight, I often used large cardboard arrows, holding them up so students could ...

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3. Attentive Listening and Conciliatory Argument

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pp. 60-88

By the beginning of the second unit, a month or so into the semester, students recognized that the seminar on arguing as an art of peace was different in a number of respects from a conventional college class. Of course, they were learning about some new ways to engage in conflicts, using tactics associated with an open hand. But the approach to...

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4. Mediating and Integrative Argument

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pp. 89-113

In the third unit of the course, students explored ways to mediate disputes and integrate opposing viewpoints, encouraging adversaries to cooperate on the basis of shared interests or goals. Although the project introduced a new set of circumstances for arguing, it also incorporated skills and tactics familiar from our work on reframing and attentive...

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5. Bowing Out

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pp. 114-138

Over the five semesters that I taught the course, Arguing as an Art of Peace was an ongoing experiment, an effort to find better ways to incorporate three modalities of learning—contemplative, kinesthetic, and conceptual-procedural—into a course structured around a series of projects, each affiliated with a different tactic for arguing with an...

Appendix 1: Photographic Illustrations of Movement Sequences

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pp. 139-148

Appendix 2: Three Student Papers

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pp. 149-163


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pp. 164-168

About the Author

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pp. 169-170


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pp. 171-176

E-ISBN-13: 9780874219272
E-ISBN-10: 0874219272
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874219265
Print-ISBN-10: 0874219264

Page Count: 186
Illustrations: 21
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 859155821
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Open Hand