Socrates believed that enabling students to think for themselves was more important than filling their heads with “right answers.” In a Socratic Seminar, participants seek deeper understanding of complex ideas through rigorously thoughtful dialogue. A Socratic Seminar fosters active learning as participants explore and evaluate the ideas, issues, and values in a particular text.
For today's Socratic seminar we will explore the topic of political power and ideology as it is expressed in Machiavelli's The Prince. What is political power? How is Machiavelli's ideology different from that of other Renaissance Humanists? Are Machiavelli's ideas still pertinent to today's society? What is the relationship between those who govern (The Prince) and those that are governed (the people)? Do the ends justify the means?
Before we discuss the questions you have prepared for today's Socratic Seminar it is imperative that you understand several procedural concepts before we attempt a Socratic Seminar. Please understand and follow the guidelines below:
• The seminar is a dialogue and not a debate.
• Questions have no right answer, instead, they reflect a genuine curiosity on the part of the questioner. Good questions lead participants back to the text as they speculate, evaluate, define, and clarify the issues involved.
• Understand the role and responsibility of the participant. Good seminars occur when participants study the text closely in advance, listen actively, share their ideas and questions in response to the ideas and questions of others, and search for evidence in the text to support their ideas.
• Adhere to the proper guidelines for seminar behavior. Listen, Build, and Refer to the Text.
LISTEN: No one can speak while someone else is speaking.
BUILD: Speakers must try to build on what others say, not debate their views.
REFER TO THE TEXT: Speakers must refer directly to the section of the text from which their ideas come.
Self-evaluate your participation and performance in today's Socratic Seminar in each of the four categories: Questioning, Speaking, Listening, and Reading. Circle a level for each category. Attach your prepared higher order thinking questions to this sheet.