What happens with our book when we’re not in the room?

Robbie Gringras
January 31, 2024

Do you ever wonder about those multi-colored toys that babies play with? Those constructions that have triangle-shaped, circle-shaped, and square-shaped holes, and the baby is supposed to push shapes into the correct holes? They are amazing educational tools. They teach a skill, they encourage the learner to practice that skill, but there is no teacher anywhere to be seen. A parent can help, and in this sense a parent is definitely educating their child, but the kid can practice with and learn from this toy without the parent in the room. That garish yellow and red toy is both a lesson and a teacher.

We’re interested in finding out to what extent a book can act as an educational toy.

In aiming to encourage people to practice having healthy arguments, we wrote a book. This book contains 24 very short stories designed to be read out loud, so as to provoke a disagreement. “Stories for the Sake of Argument” has so far sold several thousand copies, reaching homes, classrooms, and communities across the English-speaking world.

But now we want to find out if it’s a book, or an educational toy.

Jewish organizations have inundated us with requests for us to run workshops about healthy arguments. The workshops include the teaching of various strategies and tips, and they also include the “use” of some of the stories in the book. That is, we divide participants into small groups, and encourage them to discuss the challenges that the stories present them with. We are working with an independent research firm to clarify what is learned or missed during these hands-on workshops. How many workshops deliver the greatest impact? Do adults or teens most benefit?

But we don’t yet know what happens with the book when we’re not in the room.

We’ve heard many informal reports of folks reading our stories out at a family gathering, a Friday night dinner table, a community event, but we don’t have enough information to learn from them. As our researchers keep telling us: The plural of anecdote is not data.

This is why we’re setting off on a campaign to find out more. If you have a copy of Stories for the Sake of Argument, have you ever made use of it – with friends, family, work? How did the conversations go? Were they so stimulating that you’ve returned to the stories several times? Or did it all fall flat and the book has returned to your shelves? Are you making use of the new stories we are writing and publishing for free download on our website?

We’d really love to hear from you. Whether or not you bought the book, were sent one by a friend, or received one as part of our workshops — has it been of benefit to you?

Let us know here.

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