STEPS TOWARD BETTER UNDERSTANDING

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The deliberative process, as practiced by the Kettering Foundation, is an art form that springs to life in small groups led by a trained moderator. Whatever the problem to be discussed - crime, poverty, corruption in government - the method used by the moderator is illustrated in the following excerpts from Kettering material which are partial instructions to the moderator. * Ask for personal stories that reveal how the problem has affected people personally. This will help participants connect their personal experiences and values to the public policy issue and see each other as people rather than as adversaries in a debate over who has the best facts. * Promote interaction between participants instead of between the moderator and participants. Participants check what is being said by reflecting on their own life experience. They ask themselves, ''Does this ring true?'' Then, most importantly, they must be able to compare their life experience (and what ''rings true'' in it) with other life experiences. * Ask questions that encourage the speaker to make a connection between the actions he or she would advocate and what is important to him or her. * Probe each speaker's statement until others can understand what he or she believes should be done and why he or she thinks it should be done. Avoid letting people end with ''ain't it awful'' or ''if only'' statements. When they do this, participants move from an attitude of ''what I want'' to ''what we can focus on.'' Sooner or later they focus on a Public Voice, ''what we ought to do.''

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