Role-Playing in Socratic Seminar

A great way to spice up a Socratic Seminar for experienced students is to have them role-play as other people. There are many ways to do this, from researching historical figures to pretending to be characters from stories, movies, or novels. The students could dress for the occasion, could speak in accents and could even try adopting mannerisms.


The important aspect of this is that participants attempt to change their habitual thinking patterns. Critical thinking often involves trying to stay objective and recognizing one's own biases. Acting as other people is a great way for students to practice neutrality and objectivity, along with possibly learning about empathy through a different viewpoint.


One year, when I taught high school, I had the students research various historical figures. They had to create business cards and résumés for these people and then came in costume to a Socratic Seminar where we discussed our ongoing essential question. Students tried on accents, exchanged business cards, tried using Elizabethan English and accents, and otherwise lost themselves in the experience. It was great fun! 


Students can participate in similar ways by using role-playing cards that help them “think beyond themselves.” Such cards can be based on picture book characters, with the idea of: “What would that character think or say?” But they can also use more abstract suggestion cards based on something like animals: “How would an elephant answer this question?”



Image Gerd Altmann - Pixabay


creative thinking, learning, Socratic Seminar

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