Characteristics of a Participatory Seminar


Now that we’re launching our open online participatory seminar, some ideas on those last couple of words:

In high school I spoke during class discussions only in Doc Hanneman’s geometry and calculus courses, and in history/civics courses that Lynn Pierce, William Schimmel, Roger Stouffer, and Marty Wiltgen designed around scenarios and simulations requiring role plays supported by research, discussion, and reflective writing about learning. As a college student, I began speaking in class only during year five when I switched to a political science major because the faculty welcomed dissent as part of learning.

The principles I learned from those teachers inform this seminar design:

  1. Learning requires participation and change.
  2. Learning is an activity in which participants work to create climates of safety where risks of saying, hearing, creating, and testing ideas are supported.
  3. Learning builds on the principles of improvisation.
  4. Learning takes place whether we’re ready for it…

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