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 four 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 Socratic Seminar, Active Listening, Inquiry, Teaching & Learning, and Critical & Creative Thinking. He is currently working on a book of poetry, a short story collection, and several novels.
I often get asked about why NOT raising hands is important for Socratic Seminar. The answer is relatively straightforward. Raising hands negatively affects active listening. When we raise our hands to speak next, we often end up focusing on what we will be saying, not on what is currently being spoken. This means that participants in a seminar wouldn't be building on what the previous speakers said, so the conversation ends up being flat and unproductive.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
Groups that struggle can use a number of strategies until they are ready to try not raising hands. Individual whiteboards, clickers and voting systems, talking sticks and other turn-taking strategies, such as simply going around clockwise, can help with procedures. However, in keeping with the seminar thought process, the best approach is probably to pass the responsibility over to the students. As an example: “Today we are going to try not raising hands. How do you think we should handle this? How can we ensure that we take turns and that everyone is able to contribute?”