Socrates Cafe “How do you feel about the future?”

February 8, 2012 at 8:09 AM 2 comments

We are starting the “Problems with Oil Project”, except this year we are re-framing it as “Energy Opportunities” to keep us all looking upwards towards hope and, well, opportunities. Krissy led the kick off activity and blogs below:

Today in our class we held another Socrates Café.  This time we asked the question: “What is the state of the world (and our future), and what does oil have to do with it?”  We are using this question as a jumping off point for our Energy Opportunities unit, where our students dive into the big issues surrounding crude oil and sustainable energies.  Yet again, I was pleasantly surprised by the responses that were given.

As a start, we had the kids show us with their “thumb-o-meters” whether they thought the future looked good (thumbs up), bad (thumbs down) or in between (midway).  I was not surprised to see many thumbs down when they did this, but I was surprised to hear why they believed the future was so bleak.  They mentioned our dependence on foreign oil and the potential for wars over oil rights.  A few mentioned our need to develop better more sustainable transportation so that we could draw away from oil.  We even spoke of needing to colonize the moon and Mars in order to start over because we have used up all of our natural resources.

I know that it sounds like an insightful yet depressing mess, but we were actually able to address some positive points as well.  A lot of kids mentioned medical advancement and newer better technology that could potentially lead to solutions to our oil problems.  One student actually went so far as to criticize our emphasis on developing new technologies for “…social networking, ipods and other pointless stuff” and expressed his desire for us to focus on more important areas of development. (Whoa!!)  Needless to say I was blown away by the amount of insight that my students showed.

I love doing this activity, and today’s Café was another roaring success.  By doing Socrates Cafe, I was able to see how informed (or not) they are about these topics.  I learned what their major concerns are and what misconceptions they may have about their future.  (One huge misconception was that none of the “bad stuff” was going to happen in “their time” so they don’t have to worry about itL)  While I did make note of these things, I did not take the time to overly correct anyone about any misconceptions.  This activity was meant to be a relaxed intellectual discussion, and I think that it works the best when the students are given much more opportunity to speak freely.  That’s when you end up hearing the best answers.  Such as:  “Why should we worry about fixing things when we can all just go live in Canada?”

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Entry filed under: Chemistry topics, Critical Thinking, Curiosity, Energy Opportunities Project, Environmental Education, Inquiry and critical thinking, Project Based Learning, PROJECTS. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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