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Let’s Talk leaders are not only in charge of choosing the topic and moderating discussion. They are also in charge of structuring the discussion. This guide outlines FIRE’s heat levels, which are designed to help leaders guide their discussion group towards constructive conversations. Leaders can use these levels to keep the topics discussed appropriate to their group’s discussion readiness, in order to gradually teach civil discourse to group members. The higher the level, the hotter (or more controversial) the topic.

If the students in your discourse group appear to consistently maintain a “good faith” attitude, it’s time to advance to the next heat level! If the discussion devolves from a “good faith argument” to a “bad faith argument,” it is time to reduce the heat level and diffuse some of that hostile energy. Remember to pay attention to the participants’ emotional temperatures.

Signs your group is ready to move up a spice level:

  • Discussion is civil, remaining in bounds of “good faith” argument criteria.
  • Differing opinions are being shared.

Your group needs to go back a level if you sense emotional temperatures spiking. When emotional temperatures spike, the group could be heading into a “bad faith” argument situation which will only devolve the discussion and make the experience very unpleasant for everyone.