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How We Argue: A Workshop for Social Studies Teachers

August 5, 2019 to August 7, 2019

How do we discuss controversial topics? Often, it seems, we rely upon superficial research of the facts, intimidation, or appeals to emotion. Yet, democracy depends on citizens charitably and accurately engaging each other’s arguments.

In this workshop, we introduce ​argument mapping: a simple, powerful, ​research-backed method for applying logical rigor to writing and classroom discussions. ​Visualizing the structure of arguments makes students more precise, confident thinkers across disciplines. ​Harvard philosophers have partnered with social studies teachers to develop and test this method with students. Teachers will be provided tools, resources, and best practices that can be implemented immediately to support student learning.

Click Here to View Tentative Schedule

Aligning with dimensions of the C3 Framework, argument mapping can help your students develop critical reasoning skills by:
  • Structuring their thinking using a visual method that organizes claims into a hierarchy of support relationships
  • Evaluating the quality of an argument by (1) evaluating premises (evidence) for truth or reasonableness; and (2) evaluating the strength and weakness of support relationships

This process helps students not just weigh evidence, but analyze whether that evidence adequately supports the logical structure that is at the heart of any argument, whether found in an essay, speech, editorial or other source vital to civic discourse.

Registration Fee: $459 NCSS members / $599 nonmembers*
*Try us out! One year of online membership is included complimentary when registering as a nonmember.


Who Should Participate?

This event is open to those with an interest in creating a classroom environment open to thoughtful, evidence-based discussion amongst students.

  • K-12 Classroom Teachers
  • Administrators
  • Curriculum Specialists/Coaches
  • Higher Education Faculty
  • Teams

Travel and Lodging

Travel and hotel are not included in registration. Participants are responsible for making their own travel and hotel arrangements. The Cambridge and nearby Boston area has many lodging options available to suit your schedule and budget needs – especially if you are planning an extended stay in the area for sightseeing or other activities before/after the institute.


Nate Otey is a Fellow in the Harvard Philosophy Department and Lead Instructor for ThinkerAnalytix. Nate creates in-person and online learning experiences to train teachers and students in argument mapping. He also conducts workshops on controversial ethical and social issues, and previously co-founded a website that aggregates the top reasons on both sides of issues in the news.


Patrick Flynn teaches AP World History and Modern World History at Lexington High School in Lexington, MA. He holds a Masters in Education from Boston College and a Masters in History and Social Studies Education from Columbia Teachers College, where he worked with leading faculty at the Stanford History Education Group.

Anne Sanderson is CEO and Co-Founder of ThinkerAnalytix and an Associate in the Harvard Philosophy Department. She taught high school English in California and Massachusetts schools for 25 years.


Institute Location

Harvard University
Robinson Hall in Harvard Yard
35 Quincy St
Cambridge, MA 02138
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