Critical Explorers Workshop for Educators

A description of the most recent workshop is archived here. Details on the next Critical Explorers workshop for educators will be posted here when they are available.

Critical Exploration is a distinctive teaching approach that powerfully supports both original inquiry and democratic conversation — all while engaging students in developing deep understandings of the subjects they study. Through CE, teachers bring students into direct contact with complex, thought-provoking primary source materials, using time-tested techniques that encourage students to express their thoughts, continue thinking, and discover and pursue promising puzzles and questions. This transformative process expands students’ awareness of their own intellectual capacities while heightening teachers’ appreciation of their students’ potential.

This online workshop is designed to help you stretch your understanding of critical exploration, whether you’ve practiced this approach or are encountering it for the first time. Together, we’ll experience how it works in a range of subject matters. You’ll learn concrete teaching strategies and get to know materials that will challenge your students, bolster their confidence, and enlarge their capacities to share and build on each other’s ideas.


Educators in school, college and university, and other settings, including outdoor and museum-based programs. All educators are welcome.


Please email us at


“It was great to have a lesson presented that I will use all year. … I so appreciate this opportunity. I plan to be back. I plan to read your books, check in on your website, review a Piaget primer… Thank you.”
Kathryn Koontz, Stevenson School, Carmel, CA

“I think that we’re really building life-long learners – people who can think and speak and ask questions and be okay with not knowing the right answer right away . . . . This has changed not only the way that I teach but also the way that I learn, and I hope this for all teachers. I really think this is the best thing we could do for our kids.”
Lynette Goulet, Watertown Middle School, Watertown, MA

“Now, when I’m making my lessons I’m always thinking, what am I saying to students, and how can I expose my students’ thinking?”
Laszlo Bardos, Rivendell Academy, Fairlee, VT and Orford, NH

“Through Critical Explorers, kids learn the value of patience and deliberateness, and that really hit home for me a couple of years ago when I got the first group of students in my 9th grade course who had gone through the Critical Explorers program in 7th grade. I gave them something to do, and they really dug into it — to a degree that I had never seen before. And I knew it was because of their CE experience. I think that’s a great thing to be able to teach kids to do — to dig deep, and be thoughtful, and careful, and patient, as they wrestle with big ideas.”
Kraig Gustafson, History Coordinator, Watertown Public Schools, Watertown, MA

“My looking at the piece [in Steve Seidel’s session on looking at classroom work] felt like an ‘opening up’ process as opposed to the ‘narrowing’ feeling or process I sense when ‘correcting’ or typically ‘commenting’ on a student’s work.  The order of the steps encouraged wondering and, in the process — awe.”
Holly Turner, The Common School, Amherst, MA

“When a veteran teacher comes to me and says, ‘You know, I’ve been through a lot of professional development activities before and this one really hit home for me, it really resonated with me,’ you have to give the teachers a chance to explore that as much as they can.”
Kimo Carter, Principal, Watertown Middle School, Watertown, MA

“What if we were doing this from year to year, from grade to grade, every teacher approaching it from their own context, their own curricular perspective as we went along, what would that do over time for the thinking of our students?”
Gordon Christie-Maples, Samuel Morey Elementary School, Fairlee, VT and Orford, NH