I enjoyed reading about book clubs and socratic seminars this week. Mostly because I did them both as a child and my experience with both of these things was very different from the ones outlined.
Firstly, I remember socratic seminars from high school, and I almost laughed out loud at the mention of “preparing thoughtful citizens for active involvement in a democratic society” (Trenway). What I remember most vividly about the socratic seminar process was that it was mostly just a couple of very strong personalities dominating a classroom conversation. If you were a hand raiser or felt like you needed some prodding, you were sort of out of luck. It was novice learning at its best- people who thought the quickest and the loudest were the ones who dominated the discourse. It makes me feel like our first weeks reading and this weeks reading were in this way a bit at odds.
I also was in book clubs as a kid. And I never read the book. This did not stop me from engaging in a lively discourse about the cover of the book, about the part I skimmed, about the back cover summary. Because of this, I really gravitate toward the book club exploded article from the library journal. I like the de-emphasis on the supposed transcendental nature of reading a book from spine to spine. If the purpose of book clubs is to give people an opportunity to be on the same page (pun intended) about a subject, author or idea, then there are a thousand other ways of doing that than making them all buy the same boring group. I think book club rogues like me have been interacting with book clubs in this manner for quite a while, and it was strangely validating to hear it in the literature.
Finally, this whole theme of keeping the discussion going has me really thinking about social media. If social media is indeed about conversations, then wouldn’t book clubs make sense to be linked with social media? I’m thinking book hashtags would be easy, maybe some other types of quick tweets with small communities. No full ideas, just short and sweet bits and pieces. That way, book clubs could be asynchronous and you wouldn’t have to put everyone in the same room. And wouldn’t a tweeting model taking the hand-raising stigma out of Socratic seminar, allowing people to more fully interact?