In Contrast has proven to be useful educational tool. These additional questions connected with the topics explored in each of the episodes are designed to foster classroom discussion.

Click on the titles below for classroom questions below.

  1. Who decides when a new word should become part of a standardized language?
  2. Do all languages have the same number of words?
  3. By what mechanism is the spelling of a word accepted?
  1. What are the challenges of producing theater today that isn’t commercially driven?
  2. How can rural areas benefit from housing a theater troupe?
  3. Why are women theater directors still underrepresented?
  1. Can translations be simultaneously fateful and beautiful?
  2. What is the difference between translating a classic and a contemporary book?
  3. Why do publishers continue to underpay translators?
  1. What role does silence play in poetry?
  2. How does a poem take shape?
  3. Are poets agents of change? What kind of change?
  1. How can an author write for children without being condescending?
  2. Are children rational?
  3. Can ADD be an advantage for a children’s author?
  1. Is forgetting as important as remembering?
  2. Are there drawbacks in building museums and monuments around tragedies?
  3. Is there a difference between personal tragedy and collective tragedy?
  1. What do we mean when we say that a book has become a classic?
  2. Does the work done by illustrators similar to the one done by translators?
  3. Do you need to be an avid reader to become an illustrator of literary classics?
  1. Are immigrants treated differently depending on where they come from?
  2. In spite of its immigrant past, is America always ambivalent about newcomers?
  3. Does Emma Lazarus’ sonnet “The New Colossus” still resonate today?
  1. Why is money not a topic in the elementary-school classroom?
  2. Do children of different cultures understand money differently?
  3. Does upward mobility depend on openness about financial matters in families?
  1. In what way is ‘Black Lives Matter’ an outcome of the Civil Rights Movement?
  2. What kind of impact will it have in future generations?
  3. Will America ever reach a state of racial equality?
  1. In what way do political parties foster consent among their members?
  2. Is disagreement in politics a sign of unrest?
  3. How has conservativism changed since the Reagan years?
  1. Is a foreign correspondent a witness?
  2. What dis the difference between reporting on national issues and on world affairs?
  3. Does the reporter’s gender matter?
  1. Can democracy truly be representative?
  2. Is a political commentator ever objective? Should they be?
  3. What is the role of dissent in democracy?
  1. Is ethnicity a factor in the way the news is delivered?
  2. Have accents become more acceptable in broadcasting?
  3. What is the challenges of minority journalist in today’s American media?
  1. Does suffering imperil reason?
  2. Should doctors and patients develop friendships?
  3. Can knowledge be a cure for illness?
  1. In what way is God hidden?
  2. Do religious leaders be kept to a higher moral standard?
  3. To what extent is doubt an important part of faith?
  1. How do you define “endangered language”?
  2. Do these endangered languages deserve special treatment?
  3. In what way can the media be involved in improving their prospects?
  1. Is a political leader born or made?
  2. Do different cultures have different approaches to leadership?
  3. How should a leader approach doubt?
  1. How do we learn how to think?
  2. In what way are ideas the result of visual stimulation?
  3. To what degree should improvisation be a component of children’s education?
  1. In what way the East/West polarity real?
  2. Why does America have billionaires but Russia has oligarchs?
  3. Is it possible to restrain foreign influence from national elections?
  1. Is art always about identity?
  2. In what way do our own ancestors coexist with us in our own body?
  3. In what way do artist of color face challenges of controlling their own narrative?
  1. In what way do immigrants change America and American changes immigrants?
  2. How does the English language reflect these changes?
  3. Is the American Dream alive in the age of Donald Trump?
  1. When is revenge permissible?
  2. Does the rule “Eye for an Eye” apply to nations?
  3. Are targeted assassinations immoral?
  1. Are writers of color held to different aesthetic and moral standards?
  2. Does writers of color have the obligation to be political?
  3. Is literature an equal-opportunity field?
  1. Can poetry heal?
  2. Has the medical profession forgotten how to deal with humans?
  3. How do we talk about illness?
  1. Are fiction and nonfiction antithetical?
  2. Is it possible to talk about dreams without betraying their ephemerality?
  3. Why does the uncanny generated anxiety in us?
  1. Is poetry a form of therapy?
  2. Are the words to describe death or is it beyond language?
  3. How do different cultures handle mourning?
  1. Is our face an expression of our personality?
  2. Do faces lie?
  3. How are faces in a multiethnic society read?
  1. Why do the classics matter?
  2. Does each civilization have different classics?
  3. Are classics perfect?
  1. Is poetry necessary?
  2. Are poets born or made?
  3. Is poetry always political?
  1. Is poetry necessary?
  2. Are poets born or made?
  3. Is poetry always political?
  1. Should opinions be silenced?
  2. Should people change their mind?
  3. Are opinions improvable?
  1. Are global cities cruel?
  2. Who is visible and invisible in the global city?
  3. How do cities become global?
  1. Is globalization dangerous?
  2. Is it natural?
  3. Should it be contained?
  1. Are the poor less free than the rich?
  2. Should education be made free?
  3. Do development nations need to be helped?
  1. Does music have an address?
  2. In what way does music create community?
  3. Is the musician a storyteller?
  1. In what way is the human voice powerful?
  2. Is voice another musical instrument?
  3. How does our voice change as we mature?
  1. Is the truth of the fiction writer the same as the truth of the historian?
  2. Can a novel lie?
  3. Does fiction have a responsibility?
  1. How many emotions are there?
  2. Are emotions dangerous?
  3. How do men and women engage with their emotions?
  1. What drives us to collect items?
  2. Are objects of the past memory capsules?
  3. Can music from ancient times be recreated?
  1. Are books today as diverse in terms of topics as they should be?
  2. Is pain explainable in words?
  3. Is courage measurable?
  1. Is the camera a witness of history?
  2. Is the photographer an intruder?
  3. Is it morally right to Photoshop photographs?
  1. Are graphic novels replacing regular novels?
  2. Is autobiography a form of fiction?
  3. Can one be objective about one’s own life?
  1. Are words musical? Is the poet a composer of sounds?
  2. How does one become a poet?
  3. Is it possible to translate objectively someone with a different religious view?
  1. What places in the globe are untouched by humankind?
  2. Does nature need to be saved?
  3. Is tourism innocent? Is it a form of destruction?

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About In Contrast

In Contrast explores wide-ranging topics from art to politics through interviews with the people experiencing and defining the issues of the modern world. Past guests include such diverse figures as American poet Wendy Barker, children’s book author Norton Juster, Washington Post journalist Wesley Lowery, New York Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens, The New Yorker foreign-correspondent Robin Wright, and PBS broadcaster Ray Suarez. New episodes are released on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

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