Island School and Bill Cathers hold Socratic reading seminar
Island School teachers and high school honors English students participated in a one-week seminar with educator William (Bill) Cathers, an educational consultant, speaker and writer who works with school districts, private corporations and non-profit organizations.
Reading was the focus of Cathers’ workshop and he met with the entire high school for a 90-minute presentation during which Cather led the assembly through a selection from Sophocles’ work “Antigone.” “The students scarcely wiggled, their focus was so intense,” said Head of School Bob Springer.
Cathers’ ideas are based on years of study with author and philosopher Mortimer J. Adler.
During the weeklong workshop, Cathers met with the school’s honors English students. Cathers seminar dealt with how individuals in society obtain the good life, as he used examples from Socrates and Machiavelli.
Kariann Lee, a junior at Island School in the honors English class, said that she loved the seminar. “Mr. Cathers was captivating. I used to tackle difficult readings by going over and over the text. It just didn’t sink in. Now I know how to skim through the material before I read the whole thing and it makes it so much easier to understand.”
After school Cathers worked with the faculty. One of the topics he discussed was “How to Read a Book.” He also addressed techniques of classroom management and strategies for teaching music and art often keeping his mentor, Mortimer J. Adler, in the forefront of his seminar.
Island School teachers came out in force to be a part of Cathers’ workshop. His ideas and strategies were useful at all grade levels. “Cathers puts concepts together in ways that make sense,” said middle school social studies and drama teacher Eric Devlin. “I can see how useful his methods are, especially when my students tackle difficult readings.”
Connie Kakalia teaches second grade at Island School. “I started implementing some of Cathers’ techniques in my classroom immediately,” she said. “He validated a lot of my teaching strategies and encouraged me to spend quality time in the pre-reading stage.”