Based on five years of classroom experimentation, The Open Hand
presents a highly practical yet transformational philosophy of teaching argumentative writing. In his course Arguing as an Art of Peace, Barry Kroll uses the open hand to represent an alternative approach to argument, asking students to argue in a way that promotes harmony rather than divisiveness and avoiding conventional conflict-based approaches.
Kroll cultivates a bodily investigation of noncombative argument, offering direct pedagogical strategies anchored in three modalities of learning—conceptual-procedural, kinesthetic, and contemplative—and projects, activities, assignments, informal responses, and final papers for students. Kinesthetic exercises derived from martial arts and contemplative meditation and mindfulness practices are key to the approach, with Kroll specifically using movement as a physical analogy for tactics of arguing.
Collaboration, mediation, and empathy are important yet overlooked values in communicative exchange. This practical, engaging, and accessible guide for teachers contains clear examples and compelling discussions of pedagogical strategies that teach students not only how to write persuasively but also how to deal with personal conflict in their daily lives.