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Children and teacher sitting in seminar circle

Paideia Socratic Seminar

The first stage in the development of a Paideia Classroom or a Paideia School involves the consistent use of the Paideia Seminar (based on the classical Socratic Seminar). We define Paideia Seminar as a collaborative intellectual dialogue facilitated with open-ended questions about a text. In the case of the Paideia School, this can lead to the Paideia Seminar Certification, which documents the integration of the seminar into all aspects of school life.

Specific learning objectives for the Paideia Seminar include both intellectual and social skills. Each seminar—whether for adults or students—nurtures proficiency in both thinking and communication. Consistent implementation of seminar practice across a school community results in:

  • significantly improved achievement scores in reading and writing, especially among traditionally underserved populations;
  • improved student motivation due to increased student voice in an active environment;
  • a more respectful school culture with fewer behavior problems.

Paideia Seminar Cycle

The Paideia Seminar Cycle comprises multiple close readings of a chosen text prior to discussion, formal speaking and listening during the seminar itself, and the post-seminar writing process, so all the core literacy skills are practiced consistently and synergistically. Since the Paideia Seminar Cycle features all the core skills of reading, speaking, listening, and writing, it allows the teacher to coach critical and creative thinking throughout, and students receive constant practice in thinking and discussion.

To that end, the NPC has created a collection of Model Seminar Plans that have been composed and vetted by dozens of Paideia teachers over years of practice. This collection includes fully realized plans across the curriculum, K-12, and for adults. These plans are intended to be used in creating Paideia Classrooms and, even more importantly, in developing Paideia Schools for Creative Thinking.