The Paideia Methodology in Confluence Courseware

The Paideia Methodology in Confluence Courseware

Socratic Conversation, Lecturing or Didactic teaching, and Experiential Learning

Confluence Courseware guides suggest appropriate interpretive and analytic questions in order to facilitate great classroom conversations as well as prompts for academic essays and project-based learning experiences in an effort to provide a truly interdisciplinary, liberal arts education. As such, this course is organized around the principles of the Paideia method (from the Greek paidos meaning “upbringing”) which incorporates three aspects of learning: the Socratic conversation, lecturing or didactic teaching, and experiential learning. This pedagogic method focuses on building a strong foundation of basic skills, thinking skills, and personal qualities that can be used for the learner’s entire life.

Socratic conversation, used approximately 25% of the time in classes supported by CC, is a formal discussion based on a great work in which the teacher asks primarily open-ended, interpretive and analytic questions with only occasional factual questions for purposes of clarification and evaluative questions for summation purposes and in order to “personalize” the learning experience. The purpose Socratic conversation is to practice communication skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking as well as to engage in higher-order thinking through summarizing, analyzing, synthesizing, comparing, contrasting, and defending and challenging their own ideas and the ideas of others.

Lecturing or Didactic Teaching, ideally used approximately 25% of the time in classes, introduces and organizes new information through lecture, reading for content, demonstration, and the utilization of the most current multi-media methods and tools. Through this method, an organized body of facts can be succinctly presented.

Experiential Learning, ideally used approximately 50% of the time classes (and this includes formal time in class as well as required out-of-class work), is application work assigned to students so that they can reconsider, research and construct a quality academic work (either a paper or a presentation) involving several academic disciplines. This interdisciplinary approach allows students to apply classroom knowledge in a self-reliant way that leads to life-long learning.

While much classroom time should be dedicated the Socratic conversation and lecturing or didactic teaching, all of the outside classroom time, in the form of reading, group work, class presentation preparation and the writing of papers, is experiential learning.

While curricular guides focus on the syntopical approach of Socratic conversation and the experiential learning components, the lecturing or didactic teaching is still quite important and for this reason students should attend all class sessions at each students school as lecture will be interwoven throughout the course on every class day. In this article in Middle Ground, Rick Wormeli says that lectures, if done right, can be powerful learning experiences (Source: “Saying ‘Yes’ to Lectures” by Rick Wormeli in Middle Ground, October 2010 (Vol. 14, #2, p. 43-44). Wormeli believes that 90 percent of what students learn from classroom lectures (the most popular teaching technique in secondary schools) comes from the speaker’s physical movements, vocal inflections, and facial expressions—so be prepared to attend not just a lecture but a theatrical performance full of motion and emotion.

Chad Redwing, Ph.D., University of Chicago, Humanities

Rodney Marshall

Rodney J. Marshall, Ed.D., is Editor-in-Chief of Confluence Courseware, LLC.

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