Learning to Teach Through Discussion: The Art of Turning the Soul by Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon
Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, author of Learning to Teach Through Discussion: The Art of Turning the Soul
Schools Should Do What Democracy Needs: Teach People to Listen

On September 8, 2009, President Barack Obama told the school children of America: "What you are learning in school will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges of the future." What do our children need to learn in school so that such challenges can be met?

Schools must teach students to read and write and do mathematics. Schools must also engage them in the arts and in physical activity. But to what end? Our educational institutions have been charged with a sacred trust: to safeguard our democracy by teaching people to both think for themselves and work with others collaboratively. And in order to do either, people have to learn how to listen.
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Learning to Teach Through Discussion

The Art of Turning the Soul

This sequel to Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon's acclaimed Turning the Soul: Teaching Through Conversation in the High School presents a case study of two people learning to teach. It shows them engaging two groups of fourth-grade students in discussion about the meaning of texts - what the author calls "interpretive discussion." The two groups differ with respect to race, geographical location, and affluence.

As the novice teachers learn to clarify their own questions about meaning, they become better listeners and leaders of the discussions. Eventually, they mix the students from the two classrooms, and the reader watches them converse about a text as the barriers of race and class seem to break down. In addition to the detailed analysis of the case study, Learning to Teach Through Discussion: The Art of Turning the Soul presents philosophical, literary, and psychological foundations of interpretive discussion and describes its three phases: preparation, leading, and reflection. A tightly argued work, the book will help readers learn to engage students of all ages in text interpretation.

Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon is director, Master of Science in Education program, and professor, School of Education and Social Policy, at Northwestern University. She teaches in Evanston and lives in Chicago.




Cover of Learning to Teach Through Discussion: The Art of Turning the Soul