“But that we shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to enquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know; that is a theme upon which I am ready to fight, in word and deed, to the utmost of my power.” -Socrates
Since 1992, The Seminar School (TSS) has operated as an alternative learning option at Service High School. The philosophy of The Seminar School is founded upon the principles of Socratic questioning and the examination of great works of writing. The Seminar School believes that quality education is based upon more than the transmission of factual knowledge. Rather, a school should attempt to instill in the student a meaningful appreciation for the learning process itself as well as for the content material being studied. In order to inspire this appreciation, the TSS faculty shares a commitment to the Socratic methodology. This is designed to facilitate:
· Reading comprehension through an emphasis on and careful study of challenging text material
· Critical thinking skills through small group analysis of the text
· Sharing ideas and making meaningful, personal connections via large group seminars
· Consideration of thought-provoking questions and individualization of concepts. These ideas will be voiced and refined through the writing process. The essay does not seek a right answer, but a well-formulated and well-reasoned response to a question of significance.
The Seminar School serves 300-350 students. There are ten classroom teachers and a counselor associated with TSS. TSS students can fulfill all language arts and social studies graduation requirements through TSS classes. Students can also fulfill some of their science and math requirements through TSS course offerings.Decision making within TSS is collegial in nature. The staff meets regularly to confer about students, create the schedule, design and implement curriculum, create opportunities for community involvement, and work with parent volunteers and academic coaches.
The Seminar School curriculum is designed to take students beyond traditional academic disciplines and across cultural boundaries. The curriculum is built upon the consideration of classic texts that span the history and breadth of human experience. The course offerings in The Seminar School are fully endorsed by the Anchorage School District and fulfill the appropriate graduation requirements. While not a traditional honors class, Seminar courses are recognized by the school and community as one option for a challenging and academically rigorous educational path offered at Service High.