Practicing healthy skepticism

As much as I am the adult in the classroom, I am well aware that the most important learning occurs when I am quiet. I am alway in search of activities that get the students learning through discussions. Discussions in which I am an observer. Todays discussion focused on practicing skepticism. One photograph of a Lippizaner horse in dancing action (the focus of our unit of inquiry), an 8 year olds understanding of healthy skepticism, and not only did I not need to promote what resulted in a very interesting debate, I had to periodically cut it short in order to give everyone a chance to practice being a skeptic.

This activity also acted as a diagnostic assessment, students used their learned knowledge to support their arguments for and against what they beleived they could observe in the photograph. Social and communication skills were practiced: keeping calm even when others challenged your point of view, waiting paitently for others to finish talking; listening and forming your next comments on what you just heard. Students had a chance to notice how these skills improved in the span of just one lesson. What suprised me the most was how much more of their knowledge my students were willing to share once they had someone challenge their beleifs about something with evidence that could be equally as credible. In the end we all walked away from the table more knowledgeable, and more open-minded, and looking forward to the next skepticism practice session.

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