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.
Have you ever noticed how many conversations proceed by associations or linkages? It's most evident in younger students when they hear a word and then tell a story they know that's somehow connected to that word. But I have begun to notice this conversation pattern in more and more adults as well. The result is usually surface-level dialogue without much substance. The main culprit seems to be the lack of listening.
The problem is that real listening is difficult. It takes a lot of work to get involved in a conversation, to care enough to process what's going on, and to build the ideas toward something greater than superficiality. Active listening, including asking questions, becomes vital for creating meaningful dialogue!
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
Listening is a vital component to any Socratic classroom. Leonard writes: “There can be great excitement in a classroom where ideas are merely presented—but there can be no discussion unless students are encouraged to absorb and reflect as well as to speak. Then ideas can be expanded, criticized, and sharpened. For such discussion, the capacity to listen is a precious resource. At any given moment, after all, all members of the group but one is engaged in listening.” Because Socratic Seminar is tremendously dependent on quality active listening, students must be taught stronger listening skills and they must be given opportunities to practice.