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A Better Forum Organization to Improve the Efficiency and the Good Atmosphere of the Drupal Community

A Better Forum Organization to Improve the Efficiency and the Good Atmosphere of the Drupal Community

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Published by: Fadil on Jul 18, 2011
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How to Organize a Forum
 
A Guide for Teachers
 The forum you are about to hold is one of a series of forums being held independentlyof party politics nationwide. Classroom forums on questions of importance to the nationare not designed to support the views of any given politician, instead they are designedto provide young citizens - students - with the chance to come to an agreement on apositive policy through the open exchange of their views in the forum.One of the characteristics of public life today is that while everybody may be in fullawareness that the state, or rather the government is unable to solve all the problemsbesetting the nation these problems appear as groups of unconnected problems inpeople's minds. Whether we speak of social policies, public education, employment or the economy (to name just a few) we are justified to state that the state plays theleading role in these issues. Clearly it is up to the government to decide which problemsmost urgently need to be treated and who should bear the burden of the steps to betaken. Citizens, in their turn, are, left to judge whether or not the government has takenthe proper steps in the next elections. However, for citizens to be able to competently judge the government's actions they need to have an understanding of the dilemmascharacteristic of political decision making.In the current economic crisis everyone rightly thinks of personal problems, andworries about the feature. Theories, ideals and interests come into conflict whendecision makers try to treat the crisis. In public affairs, though, every citizen is adecision maker, who has the right to take part in the solving of the country's problems.This is so in the case of the unemployment problem, the problem of poverty, the deficitand of every other serious problem facing the nation. This 'civil' decision making rolemeans, first of all, that each and every worker is responsible for his or her own fate,while as tax payers citizens in need are also entitled to take advantage of benefits
 
provided by local governments or the state. In addition, as a member of a community,everyone has the right to evaluate, express an opinion, and act in events affecting life inthe community. An individual's personal desires, plans, and thoughts place limits on how he will view hisfeature, while individual efforts can almost infinitely widen these limits. Unfortunately theidentification of common goals does not work this easily, and the real difficulties onlyappear after common goals have been agreed upon. At that point decisions have to bemade about the physical goods to be sacrificed and the dreams to be postponed toenable the community to reach the desired goal. In the end such sacrifices make theplan 'ours'. A sharing of thoughts, and the patient hearing out of one another's ideasholds the promise of acting towards solutions which, while they may not conform to ansingle person's ideals of what should be done, will be accepted by the majority as beingthe most acceptable for the community at large. Status-quo politics and politicianscannot even begin to approach a more perfect embodiment of the 'common good' - andthe realization of this 'common good' is up to us is citizens.In the course of the forum participants should get some insight into public issues whilegaining the chance as generators of 'public opinion' to express their views and totransmit these views to lawmakers. Forums also provide citizens with the chance tocome face to face with public issues and to come to decisions in the course of their debate - decisions which will enable them to feel that they are not just residents, butowners of this country.
I
ntroduction:
 Joint Center staff set the topics of 1994-95's forum series through a survey of publicopinion polls and the press. In the course of their surveys they tried to establish whether or not any given topic:
y
 
is of interest to the public at large while carrying contradictions in opinion as tothe cause of the problem and the steps that should be taken to solve it;
 
y
 
might adequately reflect both government and citizen responsibility in the solvingof the problem.Based on the criteria outlined above the following topics were chosen: Unemployment,Crime, Poverty, Youth at Risk, Hungary's National Security, and Evaluation at Schools.
The Forum Convenor's Role
  A forum convenor must be aware of the significance of public debate. With the help of the following suggestions and observations a forum convenor can ensure the quality of his or her work in the course of the debate. For instance, a simple collection of opinionswill not direct light on what underlies differences in opinion, nor will it show how peoplecan, on the basis of completely differing considerations, come to similar solutions to anygiven problem. A convenor should try to ensure that forum participants come to real decisions and areforced to make choices in the course of the debate. To do so the convenor should besure that opposing views are stressed when any suggestion is made. If forumparticipants themselves do not bring up opposing views you, as a convenor, should playdevil's advocate - naturally while retaining your neutrality - by saying "But a lot of peoplemight disagree with this and say..." When playing devil's advocate you should be carefulto make it clear that others have reasons that are at least as good as ours for holdingopinions that differ from ours.The contrast of differing opinions is also important because without a debate the onlything that will become clear in the course of the forum is who reads more newspapers.However, differences in awareness of a problem do not mean that a moreknowledgeable person necessarily has a better opinion than anyone else. As one of our weekly magazine's opinion page slogan puts it "Its easy to tell the truth, its just hard toget others to believe it". A forum is one of the best arenas for the balancing and contrastof differing opinions while also giving participants, the chance to become clear as towhat they think about the question at hand. By allowing us to contrast our thoughts with

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