Learning to Teach Through Discussion

The Art of Turning the Soul

Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon

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This sequel to Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon’s acclaimed Turning the Soul: TeachingThrough Conversation in the High School presents a case study of two people learning to teach. It shows them engaging two groups of fourth grade students in discussion about the meaning of texts—what the author calls “interpretive discussion. The two groups differ with respect to race, geographical location, and affluence.

As the novice teachers learn to clarify their own questions about meaning, they become better listeners and leaders of the discussions. Eventually, they mix the students from the two classrooms, and the reader watches them converse about a text as the barriers of race and class seem to break down. In addition to the detailed analysis of the case study, Learning to Teach Through Discussion: The Art of Turning the Soul presents philosophical, literary, and psychological foundations of interpretive discussion and describes its three phases: preparation, leading, and reflection. A tightly argued work, the book will help readers learn to engage students of all ages in text interpretation.

Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon is director, Master of Science in Education program, and professor, School of Education and Social Policy, at Northwestern University.

“Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon continues to fine-tune the already stunning work she has done on the role of teaching through questioning. In this regard her movement into issues of ‘difference’ and the creation of communities of learning is very promising.”—Alven Neiman, Department of Philosophy, Notre Dame

“This is a comprehensive and useful guide to interpretive discussion in the classroom—appropriate for classes at every level and in every discipline.”—Nel Noddings, author of Critical Lessons: What Our Schools Should Teach

"Haroutunian-Gordon's focus on interpretive discussion offers an exciting new approach to learning and teaching. She shows how classrooms come alive as students share their understanding of the text with each other and the teacher."—Bertram Cohler, University of Chicago

“Groundbreaking and innovative. . . .This is a major contribution to teacher education and will likely be picked up by teacher education programs interested in teaching teachers more philosophically.”—Sharon M. Ravitch, University of Pennsylvania

"Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon provides a subtle, perceptive account of the art of leading discussions in teaching, illuminating the central role that asking questions plays in that process, and arguing for making it a central part of teacher education."—Nicholas C. Burbules, University of Illinois

“Every chapter in Learning to Teach through Discussion offers probing insight.”

--Cynthia Marker, Schools

"[The] best feature of this book is that it lays out a viable methodology that teachers can follow to learn how to direct discussions."—J. Vandergriff, Choice
ISBN: 9780300120004
Publication Date: August 18, 2009
240 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4