A Small History of Disagreement
A Small History of Disagreement
We went to the library; we looked on the internet; we even asked some teachers. Most of all, we sat down to talk and think in small groups.
At the end of the week the Millennials got together in one of the classrooms and prepared their arguments for the debate. In another room, the Developers did the same.
The Debate was great, the kids who were undecided began to learn toward one side or the other.
The Developers made strong, rational arguments.
The Millennials’ passion lit many people’s hearts on fire.
In A Small History of Disagreement, students are featured as the main protagonists. They return to school from the holidays and find a large crane in their school yard. They learn that developers were hired to cut down the monkey puzzle tree for a new building as part of a school redevelopment project. Some students were very unhappy about this happening and started to protest, calling themselves “Millennials.” Other students, who believed the redevelopment project was a good idea, called themselves “Developers” and started to protest as well. The Principal thought the protests were a problem and tried to reason with the students. Then the history teacher proposed that the students have a debate, state their opinions, and vote in favour for or against the new building.
The students got to work researching points for the arguments. They took the opportunity to get together in groups to think and discuss carefully what the arguments for each side would be. On the day of the debate, the Millennials fought for nature and a “protected environment”. The Developers argued “for science and progress”. Both teams did well and helped sway those students who were undecided.
After the debate, there was a vote. All the students worked hard to create posters and hand out flyers. Everyone in the school had an opinion, and it was important to the students that every opinion was heard. After a long day of voting, the Principal announced that there was a tie! What to do next? The students were too tired to hold another debate, but simply saying “no” was not enough. The debate did not make the students enemies; rather, it taught them respect for each other and got them to think of a creative solution for the monkey puzzle tree that would make everyone happy.
Claudio Fuentes S. highlights the advantages of debates in a way that children can understand the value of developing a sound argument, the freedom of speech, and having a fair vote. Respecting everyone’s opinions and working together to come up with a solution is an important message that Claudio Fuentes S. expresses in his book. The warm colours and lively illustrations show that the students are of various ethnicities, each having their own look as well as their own voice, further emphasizing that everyone can work together despite differing opinions. The students are shown to use modern technology in their research for the debate, as well as working together and asking teachers and other members of the school staff for help on the matter, all of which brings a contemporary feel to a story that is also about the preservation of the past.
A Small History of Disagreement is highly recommended for teachers and students of elementary age and for those who are learning about social justice, environmentalism, respect, and teamwork.
Julia Pitre is a Children’s Librarian with the London Public Library in London, Ontario.