Philosophical Chairs Discussion
- Grades: 6–8, 9–12
- Unit Plan:
1. Students will analyze points of debate around censorship, choose, and support a stand on the issue.
- 1 sheet of chart paper with marker or chalkboard/whiteboard with writing utensil.
- 1 philosophical chairs reflection sheet per student
- 1 copy of the article "Parental Advisory Warning Labels Steeped in Controversy" for each student.
Set Up and Prepare
- Instruct students to read the Parental Advisory text that appears on music labels prior to conducting the discussion.
- Set up your classroom for the discussion. Have one designated area for students who agree with the topic; directly across from the "agree" area should be a "disagree" area. In between the two should be a section for students who are neutral on the issue.
- Write the topic/issue on a piece of chart paper l
- Inform students that they will discuss the assigned reading with an activity called Philosophical Chairs. Essentially, Philosophical Chairs is a means of debating an issue. See a classroom setup model, detailed instructions, and rules for this activity.
- Describe the activity and review the rules with your students.
- Reveal the topic to students: Music that may be considered offensive should contain warning labels.
- Provide each student with a Post-it Note or small piece of paper and instruct them to write down their name followed by their stance on the issue. They should write "agree," "disagree," or "neutral."
- Collect student slips and position students in their chosen areas (agree, disagree, or neutral).
- Select one student to start the discussion by stating why they chose their particular stance on the issue.
- Continue with a detailed debate with students explaining why they have taken one of the three positions.
Supporting All Learners
You may want to review the text with your struggling students prior to the Philosophical Chairs discussion. Nonetheless, because this activity is strongly based on voicing opinions and listening actively, it is accessible to all learners.
Assign the reading the article "Warning Labels Don’t Keep Kids From Shock" in order to analyze the perspectives of a music store owner and that of a 15-year-old boy on the issue of warning labels.
Have students get the perspective of their parents on the topic discussed in class in order to prepare for writing their position papers.
At the conclusion of the discussion, have each student complete the Philosophical Chairs Reflection.
Review your discussion assessment chart and student reflection sheets to evaluate the effectiveness of the selected topic.
As the discussion occurs, complete the attached discussion assessment chart (PDF) in order to rate the quality and quantity of each students’ contribution to the discussion.