Paideia Students Experience Their First Seminar


On September 10, 55 ninth grade students experienced their first socratic seminar– a Paideia right of passage. 

Beforehand, Mr.Broer, the Paideia English teacher, gave students access to the texts on Saturday leaving seven days to plan points for their discussion. Preparation included reading annotating three separate texts called The value of a story, the hero and Beasts and demons.

Sam El-Houshy is a freshman in Mr. Broer’s Paideia English class. She has participated in seminars in past years making her familiar with the unique style of discussion. 

“Last year I had to do seminars for my eighth grade English class,” she said. 

Unlike Houshy, some of her classmates have not taken part in a seminar in prior classes making Friday the date of their first socratic discussion. Kenneth Padlla, a freshman, is one of these students. 

“I haven’t done a seminar before. This is my first time,” he said. 

Despite Padlla’s inexperience with socratic seminars, he and El-Houshy both share anticipation and excitement for the class discussion and the skills it will help them build.

“I think it’s pretty cool how we get to gather in a group and discuss about the story… I think [seminars] could be important because they can help other students understand the text better and communicate with other students,” Padlla said.

El-Houshy agrees with Padlla. Though she is not as comfortable with the discussion style, she is still looking forward to the practice. 

“I am a little nervous because I’m not the best at public speaking, but I do like seminars, so I’m excited I guess,” said El-Houshy. She sees the seminars as an important part of developing one’s speaking and argument building skills. 

“I do think they’re important because it develops your discussion skills and it gets you more comfortable talking with large groups of people and it helps you with talking more about your opinions or making strong claims with your evidence,” said El-Houshy.

After the seminar, students had a chance to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. 

“I didn’t talk as much as I wanted to, I talked once so that’s something to improve upon but when I did talk I made a good point I’d like to think and I’m proud of the one time I talked I guess,” said El-Houshy

According to the freshmen, their first seminar went well. This seminar was just the first of many that Paideia students will participate in this semester. Over time, students will have more chances to experience these events and improve their skills in the future. 


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