Friday Forums: How classroom discussions help students prepare for the world

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Kushi Maridu

Class discussions like Friday Forums help prepare students for future life.

Kushi Maridu, Site Manager

AP Language and Composition teacher Dr. Lynne Lundberg hosts Friday Forums every other week in her classes. Friday Forums are formal discussions in which a student leader asks open-ended questions on a topic that relates to the real world.

Students come to class prepared to engage in a serious student-led discussion, similar to a Socratic seminar, about a news article that interests them. 

Students can pick topics about modern problems such as climate change, abortion and gun control or students can talk about anything random, such as trains.

The discussion leader keeps the discussion flowing with open-ended questions that make students ponder about the world around them. Sometimes, students may even change their viewpoint on a particular topic during the discussion. At the end of the period, students leave the class with a more extensive comprehension of the world around them.

Lundberg did not actually start the tradition of Friday Forums. In fact, the teacher who preceded her as an English teacher had an assignment called “The Friday Forum.” Lundberg altered it to suit it to the needs of the AP Lang curriculum.

“The Friday Forums develop all the skills that the students are working on in this class. These skills include developing as critical thinkers, readers, and writers,” Lundberg shared. “For the assignment, I ask the students to read the article critically, to think critically, to develop questions, to listen to each other, and to write about those issues.” 

These Friday Forums not only help students talk about the world around them, but they also enhance the students’ ability to excel in the AP Lang exam.

In addition to preparing students for the AP Exam and discussing world events, it also helps them prepare for their life out of school. PV alum Akash Pradeep took AP Lang a couple years ago but still uses the skills he learned from Friday Forums in everyday life.

“Friday Forums allowed me to look for information in my free time because I liked to look for current events in all fields and subjects. I still look at news and other websites for various topics that look interesting so I can expand my general knowledge,” Pradeep voiced. “By looking at these, I’m always in the know of what’s happening in the world. It also allows me to think and have meaningful conversations with my friends about those topics, if they ever arise.”

Learning about new information and discussing it is a crucial skill to have in life and will help students in and out of the classroom. Lundberg believes there are multiple sides to every argument.

“It’s very easy getting locked into hearing only one side of the issue and paying attention to what you already agree with.  Instead, if you regularly talk with people that bring different ideas to the table, then you will be ready to think in that much more critical and nuanced way,” Lundberg said. 

Lundberg’s ideas are a step in the right direction as our world grows ever-so-complicated. Training a new generation of thinkers can help solve the problems of the future, as they grow as people and through Friday Forums.