In June 2016, the second intake of teachers completed the intense course, coordinated by Barbara Białek, the Reginal Coordinator for Socratic Seminars Implementation and co-taught with four trainers: Celinka, Gosia, Dagmarka, and Edytka, listed in the sequence they have joined our team. The second edition of monthly workshops called “teachers train teachers” was as always a highly rewarding experience. It was a great pleasure to see the participants getting more and more engaged in this non-conventional method, willingly undergoing the apparently difficult transition process from a “typical teacher teaching their students” to “a leader facilitating their students’ learning process”. The most rewarding moment of the training process however seems to be delayed in time. It is the time in our classrooms where during Socratic Seminars we discover our students as great communicators of ideas they might not have otherwise expressed, defending attitudes that are not necessarily popular with others, or exercising skills that we could only hope they would use in their future. The effort that they make in seminars represents the skills of high-quality social and intellectual interpersonal communication and reflects the work citizens in a democracy do every day.
We dream of teachers who teach little and let others learn instead. The teachers in our dream make genuine effort to create a friendly environment in their classrooms, the environment that their students will find safe enough to bravely articulate their opinions. The safety, friendliness, and acceptance in the classroom will hopefully give them confidence to make right choices in the future and engage themselves in promoting such values as freedom and humanity. Socratic Seminars make teachers aware of the necessity to create this space for their students, the space where they can freely communicate their ideas, question paradigms, make mistakes, listen to others, and simply breathe. Socratic Seminars believe in the power of asking questions and prize discussion over debate. With the support of the seminar leader, students explore various meanings that can be found in the text and learn that there is no one “right” answer or interpretation. Seeing young people keenly discussing complex problems of today’s world, attentively listening to their interlocutors, and diplomatically encouraging the less brave discussants is such an incomparable experience that one would want to quote a classic writer: “Then to the moment might I say, Linger awhile. . .so fair thou art.” or, to quote George Clooney from the new advertising campaign for a famous coffee brand: “I wouldn’t change a thing”.
We would like to thank the teachers for their involvement and contribution. We are thankful to our partner organization in the US, Citizens for Engaged Communities for the continued interest and financial support.