Our Why

At R.E.A.L.® Discussion, we believe in the power of conversation to change a life and to change the world. That sounds dramatic, but it starts with science. We know that:

>> Conversation is a uniquely human capacity. Monkeys and robots can communicate, but only humans can use conversation to interview grandpa, triage a patient, engage in democracy, fall in love, workshop the next great novel, negotiate a peace treaty, explore edges of faith and reason. Conversation gives meaning to individual lives – and, in aggregate, it defines history. 

>> In our tech-centric world, conversation has become hard and scary – especially for kids. Screentime is not all bad – but it comes with a profound opportunity cost: children get less practice developing the in-person communication skills they need for nuanced conversation, whether academic or social. Yet, these skills – and the trusting relationships they build – are the best insurance policy against the pace, divisiveness, and infinity of digital life.

>> Schools are uniquely positioned to teach and celebrate the “human skills” we need for real conversation. For many students, school is the only place in which they engage in sustained, screen-free conversation. Teachers, then, have an extraordinary opportunity: to help today’s students learn and recognize the discipline, power, and joy of real discussion. This is a skillset and mindset that is critical for academics, belonging, well-being, and leadership over a lifetime. 

>> Schools need strategies and teachers need tools to do this work, and at R.E.A.L.®, we are building them. We know this requires a phase shift in how we think about discussion in schools: teachers can’t just expect students to use discussion to process content or engage other perspectives. Rather, teachers need to explicitly teach and assess in-person communication skills – and deserve training and tools to do that well. Our programs enable schools to make this leap.

>> Communication science is still evolving – and so are we! We know the Gen-Z communication crisis is not a problem one research base can solve. We’re research nerds ready to scour findings from diverse fields, build research-backed tools for teachers, and keep learning alongside our educator community. 

At R.E.A.L.®, we believe that:

>> Better conversations are necessary for a better future. In great discussions, the loudest voice isn’t the only one worth hearing; listening is as important as talking; questions are catalysts; diversity of perspective is exciting, not scary; and trust is the ground floor. 

>> Students are the future; teachers are future-builders.

>> Teachers deserve tools designed to meet the complex needs of today’s learners — and professional development that is efficient, tactical, reflective, and full of laughter.

>> Great conversation is part art, part science, and mostly discipline and generosity.

>> Conversation skills are teachable — and worth teaching.

As a social enterprise, everything we do is designed to support students, teachers, and school leaders. As a team, we believe that when we’re learning, we’re winning. We live and die by five values: integrity, ingenuity, diversity, generosity, and reflection. As we often sign off our emails: we are here to help – and we love nothing more than a great conversation!

Liza Garonzik

Founder, R.E.A.L.® Discussion

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