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.
As I have said on many occasions, a text or artifact for Socratic Seminar can be just about anything that will allow the participants to have quality dialogue. And this means, really, that they should be engaged in critical and creative thinking, not just exchanging unfounded opinions or somewhat related stories.
I once had the privilege of watching a chorus teacher use Socratic Seminar to help his performers understand the judges' critiques of their performance. The text was written feedback from the judges, but the group had to interpret the skeletal notes into understanding how to perform better as a group. The dialogue was amazing! They drew several conclusion, set some goals and got to working singing together.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
A “text” for Socratic Seminar is any artifact or piece that will be the focal point for inquiry and dialogue. Nearly anything with complexity, ambiguity, implicit meaning, and/or levels of thought should work well. Short stories, poems, and song lyrics are often particularly provocative, since many tend to be very dense and abstract. Excerpts from philosophical and scientific writings can also be good seminar texts, since they, too, are often dense with big ideas and complexities. Dialogues about whether advertisements are misleading can be remarkably insightful.