This week we discussed different kinds of book clubs, new formats for book clubs in the 21st century, the way they might function in different libraries, and also Socratic seminars. I was glad that we did the Socratic seminar exercise in class. From the readings, I could see the value of the exercise for K-12 students, but couldn’t see how the seminars would play out in a university setting. However, I ended up actually enjoying the discussion a lot (part of that had to do with the subject matter of our seminar: the Prensky article on banning paper books from campuses. We were all very passionate on the subject!) First, it was entertaining to watch Kristin have to hold her tongue to keep her influence on the discussion to a minimum (I did like hearing her opinions when she broke the fourth wall, so to speak, since she has more knowledge of Prensky than we do). It was also a kind of meta demonstration of how to lead a thoughtful, intellectual discussion.
The discussion/seminar ended by Kristin prompting us to go around the room, one by one, and state what our biggest takeaway was in about one sentence. It was a simple exercise but very effective and a good tool to keep in mind for the future. First, it forced everyone to participate if they hadn’t already, but that shouldn’t have been too scary because we had already been talking about our takeaways from the article in detail. Second, each student had to distill a lot of big ideas into very few words, which is a beneficial exercise in itself. And third, it was nice to hear each class member’s opinions and thoughts–everyone thought of something that I hadn’t considered or had a different perspective on.
Going backwards in time: when we broke into small groups at the beginning of class to discuss the readings, I found an interesting disagreement on one point between several students and I–interesting because the class is generally of the same mind. One of the readings for the last class described new types of book clubs for the new century. I thought the idea of online book clubs was an awesome idea! There are intense communities on the Internet that grow out of similar interests, like a specific book genre. Harnessing that in the form of a local book club would encourage young adults, reticent adults, and those who can’t make the club meetings in person to participate. Some of my classmates were more skeptical of it than I, and it was good to talk about the differences in opinions.