As a college-preparatory institution, Kinkaid is committed to creating an environment governed by its core values in which every student can gain the knowledge, develop the skills, and build the confidence necessary to participate productively in a vibrant marketplace of ideas. Fostering an environment where members of the community engage in effective and responsible conversations is an essential part of the School’s educational mission. Learning how to have a conversation, not what view to hold, lies at the heart of a student experience that cultivates individual purpose in communities. To this end, Kinkaid encourages students to freely express themselves through their verbal speech and non-verbal speech acts – i.e., those actions intended to communicate substantive messages to others, while promoting the robust exploration of ideas through the supportive teachings of the faculty.
The freedom to discuss and debate the merits of competing ideas does not mean that students, faculty, or staff may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish. In addition to being consistent with Kinkaid’s core values, student, faculty, and staff speech and acts must not disrupt the ordinary educational and extracurricular activities of the School or violate any policy set forth in Kinkaid’s Student or Employee Handbooks. In short, students, faculty, and staff may express themselves to the extent that their speech or acts are appropriate for Kinkaid’s learning environment. The appropriateness of particular speech or acts is determined at the sole discretion of the Division Head or Head of School.
Principles for Civil Discourse
The Kinkaid School believes that civil discourse is a conversation based upon respect and civility; its purpose is to enhance learning, understanding, and trust.
The Kinkaid School welcomes individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, disability, uniformed service status, veteran status, citizenship status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law. Kinkaid is committed to providing equal opportunity in all actions and in the administration of all policies and programs.
- Kinkaid’s intellectual and social environment is diverse, with many opportunities for its students, faculty, and staff to learn from each other and to enhance their own understanding of the world around them.
- Kinkaid values each individual’s ideas, experiences, and worldview.
- Kinkaid is committed to remaining a place for the healthy expression of diverse ideas, the exploration of various viewpoints, and the use of civil discourse.
Guidelines for Civil Discourse
As members of the Kinkaid community, we are expected to:
- Respect everyone’s right to hold individual views
- Approach social, religious, and political conversations with a willingness to listen respectfully to ideas that differ from our own
- Ground discussions in fact and reason
As members of the Kinkaid community, we are expected to avoid:
- Antagonism (insults, demeaning or discriminatory language, mockery)
- Hostility (personal attacks, uncontrolled emotion, threats)
- Excessive persuasion (misrepresentation of facts, emotional manipulation, logical fallacies)
Faculty and Staff Responsibilities to Foster Civil Discourse
While the Principles, Core Values, and Guidelines for Civil Discourse are shared community-wide, faculty and staff members have a responsibility to create a space for civil discourse within the classroom while modeling how to engage in effective and responsible conversations. Because we believe that it is the role of all Kinkaid employees to encourage students to think deeply about complex topics, we endeavor to foster civil discourse with and between students in these specific ways:
- Build confidence in this process by creating space for civil discourse and open dialogue among students when expressing opinions. Establish community norms and prohibit bullying or harassment of any kind.
- Help students express, explore, and be challenged on their own viewpoints as this is essential in the development of critical thinking. Avoid sharing personal viewpoints on social, religious, or political topics in order to facilitate a learning environment for students to participate.
- Encourage students to take their own reasoned positions when responding to discussion prompts and instill confidence that students will not be penalized for disagreeing with what they perceive as the employee’s viewpoint.
- Demonstrate Kinkaid’s four core values when redirecting a student or discussion.
- When grading class participation or work that involves the sharing of student viewpoints on social, religious, or political issues, be explicit and specific about what is and is not being assessed and avoid the employee’s personal viewpoints affecting a student’s grade.