Philosophical Chairs Discussion

What is it? Why does it work? How can I use it?

It’s so easy…

What is it?
A

discussion technique  Students answer a yes or no question on a sheet of paper  Students then choose a side in the room – yes or no (front or back)  There are a few chairs in the middle for undecided

Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs
Stay hot for only 1 Minute • Repeat/Rephrase a 2nd Time 3. Hold 3 Seconds Before Talking • Do not comment until the 4th comment • Move!

Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs
1.

Stay hot for only 1 Minute

This means you can only stay in the middle chairs for a short time. You can only stay ‘undecided’ for a minute. Then you should make an effort to move to one side or the other.

The hot seat should be ‘hot’

Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs
2. Repeat/Rephrase a 2nd Time Before a student speaks they must rephrase, summarize, or repeat the main point of the last person that spoke. This helps the discussion along and shows respect for the last person’s opinion. It also buys time for the person to organize their thoughts before they begin.

Rephrase

Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs
3. Hold 3 Seconds Before Talking By holding 3 seconds the student is being sure that the last person is completely done with their comment. Often students will hesitate while thinking and may not be finished. This is also a nice technique to keep respect in the front of the student’s minds.

Yield… for 3 seconds

Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs
4. Do not comment until the 4th comment After a student has commented, they can not speak again until another person on their side has already had a turn. This helps to eliminate a ‘tennis match’ from breaking out between two students.

Wait your turn…

Mr. Duez’s Rules for P.Chairs
Move! Students should not make comments to show support, but rather move their feet. If a comment has been made that they agree with, a student will get up and move to that side of the room. They are then moving “chairs” to show support. It does not mean that they have changed their mind completely.
1.

Show support by movement

Write the rules & the question on the board.
Stay hot for only 1 Minute • Repeat/Rephrase a 2nd Time 3. Hold 3 Seconds Before Talking • Do not comment until the 4th comment • Move!

Follow the rules

Role of the moderator
 The  Call

moderator should stay in the center.

“time out” when a fact is wrong or if someone is not being respectful.  Direct and call on students who have not yet had a chance to speak.  Encourage the question – keep them on topic

Closing Arguments

Closure (if time allows)
 Give

each side 30 seconds to express their opinion  Have them choose a speaker, give them 2 minutes to organize comments  Flip a coin to see which side goes first  ALWAYS have students write their answers to the question and opinion before and after P. Chairs (for academic classes)

How can I Assess Phil. Chairs?
 Write

the Question & Answer  Take Notes During  Reflection at end of class: Did my answer to the question become strengthened, weakened, or changed completely? Who in the class strengthened, weakened, changed my opinion by their comments.

Possible Topics
 Nothing

selfless  People on welfare are lazy  Where would you rather live? Athens or Sparta (world history)  Unclaimed animals in the pound should be used for medical research  Every student has the opportunity to succeed in school  Students should be able to select their own teachers

any human being does is ever truly

Other techniques
 Think

– Pair - Share  Pendulum (sometimes called “Lineup”)  Socratic Seminar

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