This week’s readings are about two different styles of reading groups and discussion: Book Club and Socratic Seminar. First, Hoffert (1996) and Dempsy (2011) explain how book clubs of public library became flourished. They argue that several factors attributed to a success of book clubs activities; widening a scope of books in book clubs (e.g. comics, non-fictions, blog posts, etc.), using videoconferencing technologies, developing activities beyond book reading (e.g. watching Shakespeare’s play after reading his book), and discovering new communities that are willing to discuss a book while they engage in other activities (e.g. Knitting club).
On the other hand, Metzger( 1998) and Tredy (1995) discuss about the principles of Socratic Seminar in classroom and how they help students achieve an in-depth understanding of reading materials. What I find most important in their articles are (1) Socratic Seminar works best with open-ended questions rather than questions which are made by and for teachers to test whether students do their readings (2) feedback based on observation from students in a outer circle to those in an inner circle can help inner-circle students improve their skill of discussion (3) teachers’ less intrusive behavior in the seminar eventually helps students’ critical thinking.
Although these articles deal with different types of reading groups (book club in public library and students in classroom), they all stress that choosing proper reading materials and having ready well-prepared open-ended questions are important for successful discussion. Therefore, while instructors (or librarians) need to be passive observers rather than active participants in Socratic Seminar or book club discussion, it is also important to keep in mind that the careful preparation of class is always essential to successful discussion.