This Monday I was in charge of leading our seminar on medieval paleography. Leading up to the seminar I was very nervous. However, once the discussion began I was able to quickly get over my nerves. Everyone seemed prepared and discussion came easily (I am very thankful to you all for this). Some of you shared answers to questions that I would have never thought of. It made me realize just how important our collaboration in this class can be. Towards the end of class we even got to experiment with different types of writing instruments which was very exciting. I have displayed above my attempt at writing some early gothic script – it was much more difficult than I had anticipated.
Some things I found helpful for preparing to lead my seminar: I had done the readings ahead of time and had copied out important details with the page numbers they could be found on. This left me with a detailed outline of each individual reading. However, I ended up with ten pages of notes. I know that in order to explain all of these points I had highlighted I would have had to talk for far too long. I then went through my notes and highlighted and annotated topics that I thought would be relevant to our discussions. I used these key themes to base my discussion questions around. Surprisingly, most things that I had included on these ten pages came up anyway, through discussion. Which led me to conclude that when highlighting key points in the readings during your seminar you should not aim to highlight everything but instead aim to spark discussion that will reveal important topics. Your classmates have all done the same readings and are knowledgeable on the same topics so if they are relevant there is a high likelihood they will come up. If not, you can guide the discussion in that direction.
Even though my seminar leading experience ran relatively smoothly, I have an idea of some changes I will make for next semester. I intend to begin preparing for my next seminar over winter break as it is a very tedious and time consuming process (much more so than I had anticipated). I also intend to integrate my questions into my short discussions of each text. I will do this to a) avoid talking alone for a long period of time and b) allow more time for discussions.
Thank you all for your interesting contributions to our discussion this week!