By: Owen Dunn
On Friday September 19, the Gilman Upper School held their first-ever “Fishbowl Assembly”. This was an assembly in which two teachers hold a public discussion on topics relevant to the Gilman community in hopes that the dialogue will evoke thought within the community. The News talked to students, teachers, participants, and organizers of the assembly in order to gauge public reaction and to get a better understanding of what to expect from these assemblies in the future. Below are the Q&As with various students and teachers.
Q: How did the idea for this assembly start?
A: Mr. Molina had emailed me in late August regarding his interest in trying a fishbowl conversation during assembly. He and Dr. Ciarleglio had done one for the football team as part of their character development series. I think I also came into the year thinking about different ways of engaging difficult topics and current events.
Q: What are the goals for these assemblies? Is a lesson of some sort meant to be taken away?
A: We hope you'll learn from the ways these two discuss a challenging topic we hope you'll see how disagreements can remain civil; and we hope you'll remember the importance of listening and communicating and treating each other with dignity and respect.
Q: Any future plans for fishbowl assemblies?
A: Yes, I'd like to make Friday's fishbowl the first of a series. Scheduling is already in the works.
Q: How did you manage to create such an authentic impromptu dialogue with no preparation at all?
A: While Mr. Ledyard made every effort to give us preparatory materials, Mr. Molina and I felt that the best way for us to appear natural was to be, in fact, natural. We both originally told Mr. Ledyard to surprise us with the topic and mode of presentation, but over several communications we were persuaded that knowing at least the general topic would be good. It would have been a very short conversation indeed if Mr. Ledyard had posed the topic and then I said, "Oops, I don't really know anything about that!" Regardless, I didn't think about the meat of the topic really at all until I was on stage, and I think Mr. Molina approached it the same way.
Q. Did you talk with Mr. Molina at all before going up on stage?
A: I did talk to Mr. Molina very briefly before going on the stage, but I can't entirely remember what we said. I think we were laughing about the placement of chairs on the stage and their contrast to my earlier suggestion to Mr. Ledyard that he stick us right in the middle of the hall, among the students.
Q: Did the assembly feel genuine?
D. Rosenfield (Sophomore): No, I thought it felt kinda planned out. I thought it sounded like they were trying to teach us a lesson: to teach us how a conversation like that should go.
C. Shapiro (Senior): Yeah. Not at the very beginning, but after that it felt pretty authentic.
A. Slodzinski (Senior): Mostly, it felt genuine.
D. Gushue (Senior): I think they tried very hard to make it seem authentic/genuine, and maybe in the future with a different topic it would become more genuine.
M. Webster (Senior): I think that they could make it more authentic. Wish that what they said was actually how they felt. Not the standard line: "these are not necessarily the beliefs that these two individuals have.
Q: Did you wish there was more conflict?
D. Rosenfield (Sophomore): As an audience, I think everyone would’ve liked to see them arguing with opposite points of view. I definitely would’ve been more engaged with opposite opinions.
C. Shapiro (Senior): Yeah, I’d like a more debatable argument: something we all talk about. If it happens again, I want it to be heated.
P. Milch (Senior): Yes, I think it would be very enjoyable if Two teachers had completely different opinions and battled it out to win the audience. I think a strong conflict would make the audience more active during the assembly
D. Gushue (Senior): I would like more of a heated debate, as I think it would spice up assemblies and keep people awake in their seats.
S. Churchill (Senior): Not conflict for the sake of conflict, but if they’re gonna do this, they shouldn’t avoid conflict and disagreement for the sake of concordance.
I. Chalk (Senior): First rule of fight club: there is always a need for more conflict. Throw a sharpened wooden spike in the middle of the ring and just see what happens.
M. Webster (Senior): Yes, absolutely.
Q: Who are two teachers you’d love to see participate?
L. Muhly (Senior): Mr. Hudson and Mr. Schmick.
A. Slodzinski (Senior): Mr. Christian and Senor Leon.
D. Gushue (Senior): Mr. Christian and Mr. Hudson.
S. Churchil (Senior)l: Mr. Spragins and Mr. Gouline.
I. Chalk (Senior): Coach Holmes vs. a small bear.
M. Webster (Senior): I'd actually rather it be students. If teachers, Mr. Hudson and Dr. Kelly.
Q: What prompt would you like to see for discussion?
D. Rosenfield (Sophomore): I’d like to see the taking a knee during the national anthem argument
P. Milch (Senior): I would like to see less heavy topics: a more local debate, topics about Baltimore sports, suggestions to make Gilman better, and/or recent news would all be fun topics that would excite Gilman during assemblies
I. Chalk (Senior): Where do deer sleep in the winter… they barely have any fur?
M. Webster (Senior): I would want Hudson and I to go on stage and discuss whether Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback. I think that everyone would enjoy the dialogue.