Socratic Seminars: Socrates

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Socratic Seminars "The unexamined life is not worth living." -Socrates Background The Socratic method of teaching is based on Socrates' theory that it is more important to enable students to think for themselves than to merely fill their heads with "right" answers. Therefore, he regularly engaged his pupils in dialogues by responding to their questions with questions, instead of answers. This process encourages divergent thinking rather than convergent. Students are given opportunities to "examine" a common piece of text, whether it is in the form of a novel, poem, art print, or piece of music. After "reading" the common text "like a love letter", open-ended questions are posed. Open-ended questions allow students to think critically,…show more content…
(after the first 4 chapters of THE SCARLET LETTER). OPEN-ENDED QUESTION: Write an insightful question about the text that will require proof and group discussion and "construction of logic" to discover or explore the answer to the question. Example: Why does Marc Antony believe that Brutus should be buried with all honor of a noble Roman given his actions? (after reading Julius Caesar) UNIVERSAL THEME/ CORE QUESTION: Write a question dealing with a theme(s) of the text that will encourage group discussion about the universality of the text. Example: How does the desire for power and position affect the character of Okonkwo throughout Things Fall Apart? What do we learn from this? LITERARY ANALYSIS QUESTION: Write a question dealing with HOW an author chose to compose a literary piece. How did the author manipulate point of view, characterization, poetic form, archetypal hero patterns, for example? Example: How does the use of nature imagery in Frankenstein affect tone throughout the novel? Guidelines for Participants in a Socratic…show more content…
It's OK to "pass" when asked to contribute. 3. Do not participate if you are not prepared. A seminar should not be a bull session. 4. Do not stay confused; ask for clarification. 5. Stick to the point currently under discussion; make notes about ideas you want to come back to. 6. Don't raise hands; take turns speaking. 7. Listen carefully. 8. Speak up so that all can hear you. 9. Talk to each other, not just to the leader or teacher. 10. Discuss ideas rather than each other's opinions. 11. You are responsible for the seminar, even if you don't know it or admit it. Expectations of Participants in a Socratic Seminar When I am evaluating your Socratic Seminar participation, I ask the following questions about participants. Did they…. Speak loudly and clearly? Cite reasons and evidence for their statements? Use the text to find support? Listen to others respectfully? Stick with the subject? Talk to each other, not just to the leader? Paraphrase accurately? Ask for help to clear up confusion? Support each other? Avoid hostile exchanges? Question others in a civil manner? Seem prepared? What is the difference between dialogue and debate? Dialogue is collaborative: multiple sides work toward shared
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