Making a Case for Communication

by Ashley Sanders

On December 1st, forensics team sponsor, Jason Stahl, and students from the Belmont forensics team came to give performances for CLASS scholars. Mr. Stahl began the seminar by explaining what a forensics team does. Forensics, he explained, stems from the idea “to build a case.” So the forensics team works to argue and persuade using a wide variety of communication methods. He explained that there are many different ways to make an argument. One less commonly known way is through performance.

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Forensics Team Director Jason Stahl

Madison Kendrick demonstrated this with her performance combining all different kinds of literature to make an argument regarding the way society treats older women. Madison “built her case” by showing various stories that all spoke to the same theme. She used poetry, drama, prose, and even news headlines to demonstrate that women are frequently mistreated in the last third of their lives.

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Allison Mahal also used performance to make a point. Allison’s performance, however, came from a single source. Allison performed a scene from a play that spoke to the nature of grief and how people cope.

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Next, Janvi Shukla and Laura Durr gave speeches they wrote for public address.

Janvi gave an informative speech on the Sikh religion attempting to inform her audience about the religion’s history, beliefs, and the discrimination they are facing in post-9/11 America.

Laura gave a persuasive speech on dishonorable discharge from the military due to sexuality. She built her argument providing evidence of real cases and personal anecdotes. At the end of her speech, she gave her audience some action steps they could take and had a petition the students could (and many did) sign.

Finally, Finley Sehorn and Justice Sloan debated Blake Simmons and Noah Miller. They debated whether or not the United State should fund germ line editing. The persuasive tactics used by both sides included poking holes in the other side’s argument attempting to discredit them before launching into their own argument.

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Each of the students on the team demonstrated different ways you can build a case and make an argument. They all used different persuasive tactics: evoking emotion, providing solid evidence, and attempting to discredit the opposition.

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Scholars and speakers talk after the presentation.

Student Spotlight – Maggie

CLASS Scholars attend high schools all across Nashville and bring to the Seminars a variety of interests and experiences. In the Student Spotlight feature, we’ll be letting you know a little more about who the CLASS Scholars are and what they do besides attend Seminars.

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Maggie – Nashville School for the Arts – Class of 2017

Maggie’s favorite subject in school is music. She loved the CLASS Seminar on Sociological Theory because she is fascinated by the way people act. Outside of school, she participates in multiple orchestras.

Maggie plays four instruments and really likes foxes for some reason.

Election Questions Answered

by Ashley Sanders

Two days after the election, political science professor Nathan Griffith came to answer questions about this insane election season. The seminar began with a (half) joking question: “Is there any way to reverse this?”

Griffith explained the Electoral College, explaining that it is highly unlikely that the electors would vote against their party. He said these electors are selected because they have shown they are incredibly loyal.

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Dr. Nathan Griffith

He then explained that although it may be flawed, this system is the most efficient. Direct democracy, by contrast, is incredibly inefficient. Limits were initially put on democracy so the people do not have too much power. Direct democracy requires putting a lot of trust in every citizen and we are afraid of “the tyranny of the masses.”

Griffith went on to discuss the post-election atmosphere that we are living in. He said, “right now it’s about fear.” People are afraid because they aren’t sure what to expect. The biggest issue with the election we just witness was “once you start dealing in fear, that’s all there is left.”

He assured the scholars that there is no need to be afraid – the president has a very small impact on our day-to-day lives. Griffith said, “The only thing they [the president] directly effect is what we talk about.”

Though this election seemed unlike anything we have seen before, Griffith suggested this is nothing new. He explained that candidates starting playing the “good vs. evil game” to get voters to the booths long ago. To get voters to show up on the Election Day, they had to incite some kind of passion. This manifested as a good vs. evil mentality. Candidates try to suggest that you have to vote for them not only because they are right but also because the other candidate is so wrong that they may actually be evil. This naturally breeds the kind of animosity we saw throughout the election season and in the events following the election.

Griffith promised that everything would calm down. He said that what is important now is how we handle this. Something is broken is our country. The question Griffith left the scholars with was “Will we listen to the people who can tell us how to fix it?”

Student Spotlight – Olivia

CLASS Scholars attend high schools all across Nashville and bring to the Seminars a variety of interests and experiences. In the Student Spotlight feature, we’ll be letting you know a little more about who the CLASS Scholars are and what they do besides attend Seminars!

Olivia is a senior at Hillsboro High School. Her favorite subject in school is English because she loves to read, write, and spend time discussing books. Olivia’s favorite CLASS seminar was Dr. Sybril Brown’s talk on media studies because ties into what she wants to do in the future. Olivia hopes to study communications or public relations and “hopefully write books somewhere in there.”

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Olivia – Hillsboro High School – Class of 2017

Outside of school, Olivia likes to paint, to write, to read, (particularly anything by Jeanette Winterson), and to hang out with friends. Three things that Olivia would like you to know about her: “I am constantly on the verge of an anxiety attack, I will be your best friend if you make pop culture references, and I will edit your grammar mistakes in texts.”

Teamwork Just Might Make the Dream Work

By Ashley Sanders

Belmont Professor Dr. Nathan Webb began his talk on teamwork by addressing an unfortunate reality: group work, particularly in an academic setting, is pretty unpopular. He had the scholars take a quiz to gauge their feelings about group work. Not surprisingly, most feelings were negative. Because of the popularity of this opinion, it has been given a name: grouphate. These inherently negative feelings about group work are just one of the obstacles against group work. The others he listed include, social loafing, which means that people are lazier in social settings because they assume someone else will pick up the slack. Other issues surrounding group work are difference in personality and goals.

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Even with all of this working against it, Forbes ranked the ability to work in a team as the number one skill you can bring to the workplace. So, Dr. Webb argued, there must be some real benefits to teamwork. One of which is synergy. “Synergy makes 1 +1 = 3” Dr. Webb said. Synergy is what occurs when people mesh together so well that they become more than just a sum of their parts. Another benefit is that working in a group allows you to compliment each other strengths and weaknesses. It also encourages accountability and provides opportunities for diverse perspectives.

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Dr. Nathan Webb

Dr. Webb had the students free write for two minutes (one minute on their strengths and one minute on their weaknesses) to demonstrate that everyone brings something different to the table, and if a group is put together and managed well, working in a group can be both efficient and enjoyable.

Dr. Webb went on to discuss what we do in groups: communicate, lead, make decisions and solve problems, run meetings, and facilitate discussion. Then, he put this into practice. Dr. Webb split the students into two groups.

“We are going to the moon,” Dr. Webb said. He then explained the scenario: they were a NASA space crew that crashed 200 miles from their meeting point. They had 15 items but could only bring 8 with them for the journey. Their mission: to rank their eight items.

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Dr. Webb gave the students time to discuss their options before bringing everyone back together to compare lists. The first three were the same: oxygen, water and food. After this, their lists varied. Dr. Webb told the students that these kind of activities help to recognize all the parts of the decision making process. He asked questions about involvement in the discussion, leadership, and how the students came to decisions.

Finally, he returned to his original question: does teamwork really make the dream work? And his answer: “it depends.” If teams are put together and managed well, then yes it does. But if they aren’t, then maybe not. However, Dr. Webb said, group work is unavoidable so you might as well learn how to do it well.

Student Spotlight – Cammie

CLASS Scholars attend high schools all across Nashville and bring to the Seminars a variety of interests and experiences. In the Student Spotlight feature, we’ll be letting you know a little more about who the CLASS Scholars are and what they do besides attend Seminars.

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Cammie – Class of 2017 – Harpeth Hall School

Cammie is torn between two favorite classes: American Government and Contemporary Issues. Her favorite CLASS Seminar was Dr. John’s Feminism – Who Needs It? because she thought it was both empowering and interesting. Outside of school, Cammie volunteers as a tutor for elementary school children at Preston Taylor Ministries and is a part of the school yearbook.

Cammie wants to work with children someday as a teacher or working with a nonprofit and she loves her dogs.

Student Spotlight – Lem

CLASS Scholars attend high schools all across Nashville and bring to the Seminars a variety of interests and experiences. In the Student Spotlight feature, we’ll be letting you know a little more about who the CLASS Scholars are and what they do besides attend Seminars!

Lem is a senior at East Nashville Magnet High. His favorite subject is science because “it just makes sense and it applies to my future goals.” Lem has his sights set on one day becoming a neuropathological surgeon. He likes to makes connections which is why he is interested in neuropathology because of the way it allows you to connect the disease to the physical brain. That’s also why the Philosophy and Superheroes was his favorite seminar: “it was all about connections.”

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Lem – East Nashville Magnet- Class of 2017

Outside of school, Lem likes to write and produce music, particularly hip hop and r&b, as well as write spoken word poetry. If you could only know three things about Lem he would tell you: “I love music. I love God. And you should get to know me. I promise I’ll surprise you.”