Discussing Dowry

Don’t you just love an invigorating discussion with friends, on a topic you care about?  Last week in English we took a break from reading Victory Song, an excellent book by Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni, so that we could discuss in depth some of the issues that had come up in the book.  We held this discussion in the Socratic style called a Community of Enquiry.  In the first five minutes, girls contemplated the first chapter of Victory Song in silence and wrote down questions they thought would be interesting to discuss:

Girls had three minutes to come up with questions they’d like to discuss as a class

Then, in groups of three they shared their questions for a few minutes, and picked the one that they thought would make the most productive, interesting class discussion:

In groups of four, girls shared their questions, and settled on one particular question

Finally, as a whole Community of Enquiry we voted on the one question that interested us the most:

This was the winning question!

The next day we held a Community of Enquiry into this question.  It lasted for the full fifty minutes of the lesson–no small feat for a group of girls talking about tough things in their second or even third language!  It was a fascinating, sometimes difficult discussion… Afterwards the girls reflected on it in writing…. Here are some fragments of what they wrote:

Before the community discussion I was thinking that dowry is somewhere right to take because it will become easy for a girl and the girl will live without any problem [if she marries with a dowry]….. But in the discussion I got different different opinions.

I would always suggest that never give and accept dowry.  The change should begin from me, we should not ask for dowry and don’t give.  We must convince our relatives and neighbours to do so.”

My final answer would be that if we can change the ideology of the people then we can remove dowry from India.”

I would be different next time by telling all my thoughts and views which I had.  And after a few Community of Enquiry I will be an important member of the Community.”

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