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.
If the students even think that you know the answers to your questions, then the conversation really becomes a guessing game, not a thinking exercise. This is where being too much of an expert can be a bad thing. Mortimer Adler and others have even suggested that teachers should facilitate seminars outside their area of expertise in order to help shed that authority.
It can be intimidating to facilitate an academic conversation around something unfamiliar, but then your questions will be genuine! Have a colleague pick a text you have never seen before and give it a try.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
The gradual release of responsibility model essentially means relinquishing power as the teacher and authority figure and then empowering students to take ownership of their learning. There are many forms of power in the classroom and a teacher who wants to pursue student-led conversation in a major way will always need to be aware of how that power manifests and shifts. A Socratic Seminar facilitator must shed the power of authority in order to become a true participant in the class, but there are many other types of power that must be taken into account. A teacher may work diligently to shed his or her authority mantle, but then may sit at the head of the classroom and thereby reestablish the didactic power dynamic unwittingly.