Technique of the Week – Socratic Seminar

Here’s a unsung hero of discussion techniques: the Socratic Seminar. The Talk Science team first picked this technique up during a series of lesson observations in secondary schools across London. It’s a great format to use to encourage students to contribute, and it scores major points on the classroom management front as only one half of the class is talking at any time. Plus, it will work with just about any topic.

Bust of Socrates

Bust of Socrates

Now, he might not look the most welcoming chap, but this technique is based on Socrates’ theory that it is more important to enable students to think for themselves than to provide them with the ‘right’ answers.

Divide your students into two groups – one speaking and one listening (they will swap around later on). Ask the speaking group questions and the listening group will assess how well they answer them.  

If you want  find out more about it then check out this video. It features Beth Hickey from Westminster Academy, the teacher who told us about it the technique.

 Alongside the Talk Science, we run a series of teachers courses on running discussion around contemporary science topics. A lot of the course content has come straight from the classroom from the 800+ teachers we have worked with over the past few years, as well as the Science Museums wealth of experience in engaging students in science. Sounds interesting? Then why not come and join us on a course  – find more details here.

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