Zachary R. Wood: Why it's worth listening to people you disagree with
As the head of a student group called Uncomfortable Learning, Zachary R. Wood made a point of engaging in conversation with people he disagreed with. Full bio
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coauthored "The Bell Curve,"
and more likely to succeed than others.
explains the prominence of violent crime
are not the only people who think this.
commentator named John Derbyshire
a non-black version of the talk
they have to give their kids today:
likely to draw a lot of blacks,"
to blacks in distress."
I invited John Derbyshire
be giving them a platform and attention
throughout my life.
was diagnosed with schizophrenia,
by mood swings and paranoid delusions.
would turn our small house
her rage on a daily basis,
that I needed to live apart from her.
some of the important lessons
about learning from the other side.
and the issues our world faces
the phrase "affirmative action"
and thoughtful explanation
at least as interesting
why people of various political views
supported it herself,
as a controversial one
the presence of minorities
hardworking people of different races
just write off opinions
to learn from the perspectives of others,
that has been formative and uncomfortable.
that I should attend a private school
the best education possible.
predominantly white private schools,
that reflected racial stereotypes.
assumed within minutes of meeting me
that my race made it harder for them
reading, writing and speaking.
to work tirelessly
people had assumed.
in order to put my best foot forward,
and excruciatingly well-mannered.
I had to show poise and confidence,
and listen closely.
that I deserved to be there
and the discomfort I often felt,
of being at an elite private school
to explore my curiosity,
of subjects that fascinated me the most.
drive and interest in the world of ideas
with peers and professors
a deeper understanding of myself
peers and professors
in doing the same thing,
was also met with resistance.
with controversy in the real world,
controversial speakers to campus.
opposed this group,
and my administration.
speakers to campus could be valuable,
facing personal attacks,
distorted by those around me.
a war against men
traumatic experiences in their lives.
that they've worked so hard to overcome.
these people a platform,
I listen to these points of view
doesn't make them go away,
agree with them.
the potential of society
and offensive ideas,
they may attract or indoctrinate.
that we may reach a better understanding,
to solve problems,
if we don't talk to each other
would be speaking on campus,
in fact, was so intense,
rescinded the invitation.
because, as I saw it,
that any of my peers or I could do
of our future employers.
on college campuses,
is that it's worth the discomfort,
not weaker, because of it.
with uncomfortable learning,
to change the values
that I've been a part of.
interactions that I've been able to have
the work that I'm doing
and who do not support it.
the values of a community,
from individual interactions.
with John Derbyshire
with Charles Murray before his talk.
would be difficult.
a deeper understanding of his arguments.
believed in creating a more just society.
of what justice entailed
to understand the issue,
to approach the issue of inequality
of issues like welfare
libertarian and conservative beliefs,
their presence in our society.
his viewpoints eloquently,
with a deeper understanding.
in the face of adversity,
understanding of humanity.
the depths of the views
of everyone they're representing.
involving constant learning,
to add value down the line
with unfamiliar perspectives.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERZachary R. Wood - Crusader for dialogue
As the head of a student group called Uncomfortable Learning, Zachary R. Wood made a point of engaging in conversation with people he disagreed with.
Why you should listen
Zachary R. Wood wants to encourage open conversations about hard topics. He is a Robert L. Bartley Fellow at The Wall Street Journal and a class of 2018 graduate of Williams College, where he served as president of Uncomfortable Learning, a student group that sparked national controversy for inviting provocative speakers to campus, from John Derbyshire to Charles Murray. Wood's defense of such conversations led him to give Senate testimony in the summer of 2017.
His recent writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Nation, The Weekly Standard, Times Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Jet and SLAM Magazine. In 2018, he'll publish Uncensored, a book that tells his own personal story to enrich and deepen his work as an advocate for difficult conversations. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zachary R. Wood | Speaker | TED.com