16 October 2012

Today was our first Socratic Seminar over Chapters 2 and 3 in A Separate Peace.

Some questions and discussions of note:

  • Alysa M. pointed out that it’s difficult to identify the hero’s journey when it’s basically the hero (Gene) telling someone else’s story (Finny’s).  Ryan D. pointed out this may be because the quest has not yet begun in earnest.
  • Will B pointed out some potential parallels between Gene & Finny and George & Lennie.
  • Lots of discussion about Finny as a god-figure issuing “commandments,” inventing both the “game” and the “rules,” and being “above” Gene.  In particular, Ethan F. suggested looking at the passage describing the elms, where “high” is mentioned multiple times.
  • Alysa M. also reminded us that since the novel functions as a flashback, it tells us as much about how the grown-up Gene sees things NOW as it does about what the adolescent Gene saw THEN.
  • Both classes had endless discussions of this question: WHY does Gene go along with what Finny wants.  In both classes we discussed the comment Gene makes about not “losing face with Phineas” which would have been so “unthinkable” it was like a “strait jacket” for Gene’s mind.

Two words of caution:

  1. Socratic Seminars are meant to be about the TEXT, and as such should contain a reference to the text in every comment.  First hour, especially, needs to pay attention to that dynamic.
  2. In your journal, my expectation is not just that you write your four different types of questions, but that you choose TWO of those questions and actually answer them, including page numbers and/or quotes that are helpful.
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