what is a socratic seminar

A Socratic Seminar is a text-based student- led discussion where students have agreed to follow a set of rules ensuring civility and equal participation.

The “text” for a Socratic Seminar can be almost any short piece of writing which raises controversial themes, a video, a song or even a one dollar bill!

Students prepare by reading the text and preparing open-ended questions rather than answers. In the “round table” discussion which unfolds, students make continuous reference to the text and each other’s contributions.

Unlike debate, a Socratic Seminar is a dialogue where one listens to understand, to make meaning and to find common ground. It is the student’s opportunity and responsibility to develop habits and skills that are traditionally reserved for the teacher.


..”Schools in societies with democratic ideals are obligated to cultivate enlightened and engaged citizens. Helping young people form the habits of listening to strangers, at that very public place called school, should advance this work.”

Parker, Walter .C. Listening to Strangers: Classroom Discussion in Democratic Education. www.researchgate.net/publication/265924093_Listening_to_Strangers_Classroom_Discussion_in_Democratic_Education.

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