Socratic Seminars

The Socratic Seminars were completely new to me.  I'd never done anything like them and I was nervous about having such a big discussion in front of the whole class.  The first Socratic Seminar was full of bumps and I think a lot of people were nervous, not just me.   However, once we got past that one we really developed a good system and the Socratic Seminars started to be a lot less nerve-wracking and a lot more fun.

The Socratic Seminars were used to open up discussion about some of the articles we read throughout the course of the semester.  We did three official Socratic Seminars and two mini Socratic Seminars.  I thought for this post I'd just include some of the more interesting points that were made throughout the seminars.

The first Socratic Seminar was on "Young Adults and Their Reading" and this was definitely used to kind of get the feel of how we would be using the seminars throughout the course.  I felt that the topic was a great one to start with but the biggest issue was that people got sidetracked and lost focus of the article we were discussing.  The best point made was that YA literature actually comes from people who aren't young adults anymore.  It opened up the question of what young adults think about literature being written for them by people that have lived through that time and may have lost sight of what being a teen was really like.

The second Socratic Seminar was on "Trends and Issues in Young Adult Literature" and this time around you could really see that we were starting to get the hang of things.  People really stayed focused on the text we were referencing and would try to draw things back to it if anyone else got sidetracked.  There were still people who talked a bit too much about personal experiences rather than the text but it was definitely less than the first seminar.  The best point made throughout the seminar was that parents should be the ones in charge of censoring what their kids read, not the school system.

The final official Socratic Seminar was on "Dark Materials" and "Fresh Hell" as well as the Wall Street Journal article written by Megan Cox Gurdon.  This was by far the best seminar.  The articles clearly interested everyone and everybody had something to say.  The most interesting point made in this seminar was that these novels that teens read these days plant seeds of ideas that teens can relate back to later in life.  It's a scary thought for some adults that teens might take away ideas from these dark novels that they are reading.

The Socratic Seminars started off a little rocky but the class quickly caught on to how things should work and everyone participated really well by the end of the semester.  The format of the seminars really helped open up talk and ideas.  They were utilized well but not over done.


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