By Liam Dempsey
Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare begins with the famous line, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.” I have had the agonizing pleasure of reading that sonnet almost a hundred times, never entirely sure what exactly constitutes the marriage of true minds, or how to prevent impediments to such a thing. The former is not easily answered while the latter seems readily apparent. Impediments abound. Barriers like privilege, prejudice, and the inability to find common ground from trying to understand another’s perspective are all too common. Other impediments include lacking crucial skills like active listening, asking clarifying questions, and the ability to be fully present in a conversation. All these things get in the way of the marriage of true minds. But what exactly is the marriage of true minds?
The Touchstones Discussion Project provides an answer. I have had the wonderful opportunity in my role as a Summer Teaching Fellow at Touchstones to take part in several exciting initiatives. These include being able take part in the daily operations of Touchstones, assisting with a workshop for BASIS educators from around the world, and finally the chance to participate in the Executive Leadership Workshop this July. The incredible work that the Touchstones Discussion Project does every day has clarified the meaning of that opaque line of Shakespeare. Touchstones believes that every person has a voice. A mind with an equal claim to truth as any other. The work of the Touchstones Discussion Project is to help obliterate impediments to collaborative leadership, to develop critical thinking skills, all in order to meet the needs of a ceaselessly mutable 21st century.