SOCRATIC SEMINARS

What is it?

“A formal discussion based on a text, in which the leader of the discussion asks open-ended questions designed to precipitate spirited and thoughtful dialogue”

(George, p. 277).

 

The goal of Socratic Seminars is that “all participants develop a more sophisticated understanding of the text through thoughtful interaction with the ideas of others” (George, p. 277).

 

Some of the characteristics of Socratic Seminars include:

•Student-centered learning

•Teacher-led questions/content

•“leading” questions toward certain idea or theme

•“A seminar can only succeed if the individual member of the group is free to express his or her thoughts openly and without reprisal”

(George, p. 277).

 

The Types of Questions used in Socratic Seminars:

 

Opening Questions are usually the most open-ended of the three types, often designed to elicit what ideas embedded in a text are most evocative  for the participants.

 

Core Questions are often the least open-ended of the three types, asking participants to examine specific ideas that have come up in discussion or specific passages in the text.

 

Closing questions usually ask participants to focus on how the ideas in the text relate to their own lives or to meditate on how their thinking evolved during the course of the seminar.”

 

 

Advantages

Students think for themselves

 

Increases student Responsibility

 

Students learn respectful group interaction

 

Higher order thinking

 

Collaborative Learning

 

“Talkers” must become “listeners”

 

“Listeners” must become “talkers”

Disdvantages

Some students are uncomfortable with public speaking

 

Teacher must let go of some control

 

Students need to be coached on preparation, participation and respect

 

Discussion will fail if students do not prepare