Last week the final Paideia seminars took place for the Year 5&6 and Year 7&8 Extension groups. The Y5&6 seminar took place on Tuesday afternoon and the Y7&8 seminar took place the following morning on the Wednesday.
The provocative statement put to the students was: 'The Arts are just as important as academic subjects'. It was quite interesting to hear their viewpoints based on this provocative statement. Many decided that academic subjects such as reading and maths were more important than the arts. Some argued that reading is the most important subject because it helps with all subjects. Some said that the arts should be optional. Others said that the arts are important for giving students who are not good at reading or maths the chance to express themselves. The variety of opinions was interesting. There was no dominant thinking (agree or disagree) towards or against the statement.
I was impressed with the way in which the Year 5&6 students were engaged with the discussions. Most students were able to express their thoughts and opinions with the group. Most were able to build on the ideas of others which demonstrated that they were actually listening to what was being said.
It was a different story with the Year 7&8 group. It was quite difficult to get half of the group to engage properly with the discussions. Quite a few were reluctant to share. I think that I made the mistake of holding the seminar in class. There were no stand alone tables so the students sat on their chairs facing each other. The students had also completed quite a complex task before hand, so in hindsight it was probably not a good idea to hold our seminar straight after.
Overall, I am happy with the way that the Paideia seminars have panned out. We didn't have any in Term 1 due to the lack of time and due to our FiaFia event. I do feel that it's still something that needs to be pursued next year because it does give our students the chance to improve their critical thinking skills and communication skills.