Do You Have 21st-Century Skills to Help Your Students Succeed?
Do Your Students Have 21st-Century Skills to Think for Themselves?
The Power of the Socratic Classroom has the answers you are looking for—answers that will supply the strategies to show students how to succeed into the future. A future that has unknown products, unidentified jobs, and unanticipated challenges.
In Socratic Seminar, teachers shift to the role of facilitator, where they help their students develop the collaborative interpersonal skills, the critical and creative thinking skills, and the speaking and listening skills to face the upcoming challenges of the 21st century.
Charles Fischer has taught in public and private schools in a variety of settings, from rural Maine to inner city Atlanta. In the past 20 years, he has worked with a wide range of students from 4th grade to AP English and has been nominated for Teacher of the Year four times. He has his Master’s degree in Teaching & Learning from the University of Southern Maine, and received his B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Binghamton University. His latest book, The Power of the Socratic Classroom, has won two awards, including the NIEA Best Education Book. His first novel, Beyond Infinity, won a 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award bronze medal (YA fiction). His areas of expertise are in Socratic Seminar, dialogue, listening, inquiry, and critical & creative thinking. He is currently working on a three book series focused on all of these territories.
Intermittent Socratic Seminars are generally not ideal. Collaborative skills, such as active listening, paraphrasing, and elaborating, take time to practice - just like all skills. Having a seminar only occasionally, such as only at the end of a unit, will leave most groups in the Storming stage of development. In this stage, students are usually vying for talk time and struggle to actually work together as a collaborative team. However, groups can develop further into Norming and Performing stages.
Students should have Socratic Seminar, or some collaborative process, at least every two weeks. I recommend once a week, which is possible if teachers in core subjects each had a seminar at least once a month.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
Be cautious about using Socratic Seminars intermittently without building toward goals. Because students need practice at working together and developing the necessary skills for successful seminars, only occasional practice (less than every few weeks) can be counter-productive. As Strong indicates: “If the conditions for improvement do not exist, it is much better not to practice seminar at all than to drag students through meaningless, unproductive class periods.” In my experience this is because intermittent practice will likely keep the group in the storming stage of group development.