I walked into a classroom of students the other day who were working with a teacher on implementing Socratic Seminar in their building. As I stepped into the classroom, the teacher immediately put the students at ease and let them know I was “cool” and could be trusted. They quickly returned to their conversations. What I heard is still swirling in my head.
These students are known as “facilitators.” They have been trained in the art of Socratic Seminar and their task is to support the building in engaging students and teachers in the method of the Socratic.
I could not help noticing some of the anger in their voices. This was not violent anger. It was not random or obtrusive. Rather it was logical anger in the face of equity. These students were discussing the teachers who did not promote the seminar method in the school. They discussed the teachers who either did not believe the students wanted or needed seminar and the ones who did not provide the structure. This was not “teacher bashing” by any means. It was a fairly professional. They used names and pointed out the instances they were dealing with as facilitators to their teacher. The teacher was facilitating this flow of dialogue.
What I saw that day was a group of students who were taking ownership of their school. They were advocating for students to be given the space during the school day to make sense of their world, their beliefs, their perceptions, and ideals.
Could it be that engaging students deeply in their education requires educators to simply create the environment, the space, and the right types of questions for students to process? Could it be that a piece of quality text/media/information and a set of highly rigorous and engaging questions is the anchor and foundation to a quality lesson? Is it possible that we do not give enough ownership of learning in our schools?