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Socratic Circle Reflections on “Night”

Every year, at the end of studying “Night” by Elie Wiesel, instead of giving my students an essay or a test, I have them participate in a Socratic Circle. The question I give the students before starting it is this: What can we do as Ohioans, as Americans, as citizens of the World, big or small, to avoid this happening again?

The “this” I am referring to is genocide, and the terrible steps before it.

Students are given three pieces of paper to reflect on the question, our reading of “Night” and on an Oprah Winfrey interview with Elie Wiesel. I explain to the students that it’s not a debate or argument, that it’s meant to be a thoughtful discussion and if anyone leaves feeling wound up or angry, then it hasn’t been successful.

After about 25-30 minutes of student lead discussion, they complete a reflection piece from the Socratic Circle. It could be a response directly to the original question, it could focus on one particular aspect of the conversation, or it could be anything that comes to mind from the unit. The response doesn’t have to be an essay or in paragraphs. I’ve had pictures, poetry, songs, stories. This year, most stuck to a more traditional response. But I thought I’d share some of the highlights.

“One thing we should have talked about more… was how thing like this are still happening…” Olivia

“Year sure, one day the world is going to end, but not yet, so let’s do the best we can to settle our differences and love one another.” Anna

“We need to be open-minded towards people who believe differently than us…” Maria

“We should be more aware of who we are voting in, and not just follow our political [parties] like what happened in the last election.” Torie

“Teaching the part of history that are bad can help bad things from happening again.” Regan

“People must be both brave and intelligent to avoid a slow depriving of all rights and belongings.” Lance

“If we are to hinder such hateful development, we need to educate.” Kienna Mearic

Two hands shaking

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