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How do I not use these worksheets in my own classroom?

Short answer:

Do not use these worksheets as mere supplements to traditional lecture, lest most of their value be lost. Do not explain the method of solution for every question, failing to challenge students to think for themselves. Do not acquiesce to the demands of students who desire to be "spoon-fed" the course content in a lecture format.

Long answer:

Socratic worksheets are designed to be used in a research/presentation format, where students are required to spend time outside of class researching answers to the questions, and then meet in class to share their findings. To think that the true value lies in the worksheets themselves is to fundamentally misunderstand the concept. The real "magic" of this method is the forced immersion of students in the subject matter: students are required to study the material outside of class, and challenged to think for themselves when called to present their findings and reason through problems. Without an organizational system holding students accountable for their engagement in the course material, worksheets are little more than ink on paper.

Another barrier to successful application of this instructional method is instructor familiarity with lecture. There is a tendency for instructors "raised on lecture" to turn discussion sessions into lecture sessions, where the instructor spends most of the time explaining the answers to students. There is a perception that unless the instructor is up in front of class lecturing, they are not really doing their job -- that it is the instructor's role to present information, and the students' role to absorb information. Reality check: your role as an instructor is to ensure student learning. If this means adopting unconventional classroom techniques, so be it.

Discussion time is meant to be exactly what the name implies: discussion amongst peers. Here, the instructor does more to facilitate and guide the discussion than to lead it, with the goal of empowering students to think, dialogue, present, problem-solve, and lead autonomously. Why would an instructor want to relinquish their hallowed position as the unchallenged Source of Knowledge in their classroom? Because in real life, after graduation, students will have to think, dialogue, problem-solve, and learn without instructor guidance. The justification for a non-lecture method of instruction is as simple as it is obvious: sitting a group of students in front of a lectern so they may passively receive information from an infallible Authority fails to prepare students for the challenges of real life where they will have to think and learn on their own.

Many new students will initially complain and resist learning in a non-lecture format. They will do so primarily because lecture is not very demanding. Many students grow accustomed to being "spoon-fed" information from an instructor, with little or no demand placed on them to think independently. To ask students to research on their own, and to actively engage in a discussion where they will be held publicly accountable for their engagement with the course material, is to ask far more than lecture typically does. So, expect a small revolt at first. However, after you have stood your ground and the students begin to experience the power of learning this way, you will find many students reverse their attitudes and become ardent supporters of research and discussion as a means of learning. They might even begin to complain about having to go to other, lecture-based courses!

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