WMS students use Socratic Seminar to discuss dress code policy

WMS Socratic Seminar Dress Code Policy

Superintendent Dr. Annette K. Freiheit listens as Winona Middle School students discuss the proposed dress code policy through a Socratic Seminar, one of many teaching strategies employed by the AVID program.

Superintendent Dr. Annette K. Freiheit continues to seek student feedback regarding a proposed dress code policy for students in Winona Area Public Schools. 

On Wednesday, she visited the classroom of Winona Middle School eighth-grade social studies teacher Tommy Sawyer, who used the superintendent’s visit as an opportunity for his students to engage in a Socratic Seminar. 

Socratic Seminar is one of many teaching strategies employed by the AVID program, which includes students at both the middle and high school. Socrates believed that enabling students to think for themselves was more important than filling their heads with "right answers." In the Socratic Seminar, participants seek deeper understanding of complex ideas through rigorously thoughtful dialogue. A Socratic Seminar fosters active learning as participants explore and evaluate the ideas, issues and values in a particular text — in this case, the proposed dress code policy. 

The proposed policy is similar to one currently in place at Rochester Public Schools. The school board asked Freiheit to receive feedback from students, staff and the community before it voted on the proposal. By and large, the new policy offers more autonomy to students when it comes to their clothing and seeks to eliminate gender bias.

Freiheit will also ask for feedback from staff, and there will be an opportunity for community members to share their thoughts as well.