- Analyze points of debate around censorship
- Choose and support a stand on the issue of censorship
- Chart paper, chalkboard, or whiteboard
- Markers or chalk for discussion board
- Philosophical Chairs Reflection Sheet printable
- Copies of the Parental Advisory text that appears on music labels, one per student
- Post-It notes or scrap paper
- Philosophical Chairs Discussion Assessment Chart printable
- Optional: Computers for online research
- Set up your classroom for the "Philosophical Chairs" 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 or the chalkboard/whiteboard you are planning to use during the discussion.
- Make a class set of the Philosophical Chairs Reflection Sheet printable.
- Print a copy of the Philosophical Chairs Discussion Assessment Chart printable for your own use. Note: The chart has rows for 19 students. You may need a second copy if your class is larger.
- Instruct students to read the Parental Advisory text that appears on music labels prior to conducting the discussion.
Step 1: 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. Students will respond to a question and be divided into groups based on their responses. They will then discuss their reasons for their answers.
Step 2: Reveal the topic to students: Music that may be considered offensive should contain warning labels.
Step 3: 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."
Step 4: Collect student slips and position students in their chosen areas (agree, disagree, or neutral).
Step 5: Select one student to start the discussion by stating why they chose their particular stance on the issue.
Note: Throughout the discussion, take notes on students' participation using the Philosophical Chairs Discussion Assessment Chart printable.
Step 6: Continue with a detailed debate with students explaining why they have taken one of the three positions.
Step 7: At the conclusion of the discussion, have students complete the Philosophical Chairs Reflection Sheet printable.
Supporting All Learners
You may want to review the Parental Advisory 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.
Ask students to conduct online research to find texts and examples that either support their position on the issue or bring new information to the discussion.
Have students get the perspective of their parents on the topic discussed in class in order to prepare for writing their position papers.
Students will complete the Philosophical Chairs Reflection Sheet printable.
Review your discussion assessment chart and student reflection sheets to evaluate the effectiveness of the selected topic.
- Use the Philosophical Chairs Discussion Assessment Chart to rate the quality and quantity of each students’ contribution to the discussion.
- Review students' completed Philosophical Chairs Reflection Sheet printable.