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Classroom: Discussions

Thinking and having discussions are essential steps in learning. The objectives of having a discussion are:

  • To explore ways of looking at an issue from various points of view.
  • To encourage more openness in speaking (courage to express an opinion).

Firstly, the students can come together to form a small group (e.g. 5 to 12 people), and sit down to choose a topic of discussion.

Content Outline

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At anytime you can return to this list by clicking on 'Content Outline' at the end of each part.

Choosing a topic

Choosing a relevant topic for your discussion is important as the topic will be the guiding principle behind the views and opinions voiced.

Some tips on choosing a topic:

  • Make sure that everyone agrees to the topic.
  • Make sure the topic is interesting and everyone understands it.
  • Try to research into the topic before the discussion proceeds, to enable you to have a broader perspective.

In addition, here are some sample topics for your consideration:

  • Discuss about what a person under Home Quarantine feels.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) could have done more to prevent the rapid spread of the SARS virus. How far do you agree? Explain.
  • The rapid spread of SARS was due to the lack of international cooperation, slow responses and unwillingness to share information. Do you agree? Discuss.

Voicing opinions

After a topic is chosen, a chairperson can be elected to facilitate the smooth flow of the discussion.

The chairperson can start the discussion by making opening comments and giving suggestions on how the discussion can proceed. The roles of the chairperson are:

  • To guide the discussion and make sure the flow of thinking does not deviate from the actual topic.
  • Maintain the discipline and conduct of the discussion.

The participants can then take part meaningfully in the discussion and contribute in a positive and significant way. Some tips for the participants:

  • Compare and contrast view points.
  • Inference from the topic.
  • Talk about the implications of the topic.
  • Think from a wider perspective. Use what you know to argue your point. Provide statistics if necessary.


After the discussion, the chairperson himself, or the participant can summarize the main points of the discussion and do a review of what has been discussed. Point out the strong points and weak points in the discussion.

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