Socrates_ the Socratic Method and the Historical_Educational

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					SOCRATES, THE SOCRATIC
METHOD AND THE
HISTORICAL/EDUCATIONAL
FOUNDATIONS OF
INSTRUCTIONAL
CONVERSATIONS

By: Scott Fenwick
Who was Socrates?
What is his Legacy?
• An enigmatic classical Greek philosopher (469 B.C. – 399 B.C.)

• The founder of modern Western Philosophy

• His logic helped give birth to the Scientific Method

• A champion of oral modes of communication

• Influential students: Plato (founded the Academy)
                        Aristotle (founded the Lyceum)

• A literary figure, reliable information about him comes from
Plato’s writings rather than traditional history

• A social and moral critic, his attempts to improve Athenians’
sense of justice may have led to his death
   What is the Socratic Method?
• Arguably the most important contribution to Western thought

• A type of pedagogy that seeks to encourage fundamental
insight into issues and ideas via questioning

• Designed to encourage self-examination: “The highest form of
human excellence is to question oneself and others”

• Argument, cross-examining, testing, scrutinizing

• “Life without examination [dialogue] is not worth living.”

• Two styles: Classic (two-way freestyle) & Modern (constructive)
    - the Classic style is more true to Socrates himself
    - the Modern style may be Plato improving upon Socrates
   How is the Socratic Method
   Implemented?
• Teacher’s temperament is vital: a respectful, non-confrontational
“devil’s advocate”

• Questioning process challenges assumptions and moves students
toward greater specificity

• Proposition of hypothetical situations

• Students come to knowledge in their own through carefully
worded questions that spur a particular train of thought

• For the modern method to work, students are expected to be
prepared for class in advance

• Pedagogically, the modern method encourages students to reason
critically rather than appeal to authority
    How is the Socratic Method Implemented?
    - Mechanics for Teachers

*Start with a “big” conclusion or question and work backwards

• Teacher and students agree on the topic of instruction

• Students agree to attempt to answer teacher’s questions

• Teacher and students are willing to accept any correctly reasoned
answer – the reasoning process is more important than facts or beliefs

• Teacher’s questions expose errors in students’ reasoning or beliefs,
then formulate questions that the students cannot answer except by a
correct reasoning process. NOTE: the teacher has prior knowledge
about classical errors in reasoning.

• When the teacher makes an error of logic or fact, it is acceptable
for a student to draw attention to the error. NOTE: this must be made
explicit!
 How is the Socratic Method Implemented? -
 - A dramatic interpretation
Plato’s Slave of Meno: An Example of the
Modern Socratic Method
• A person is led to knowledge through inductive
questioning

• The knowledge gained is anticipated by the
questioner

• “Baby Steps”

• Constructivist

* Think about these four elements and see if you can
identify them during the skit.
  Why is the Socratic Method Important
  to Teachers?
• We teachers are descendents of Socrates and his students

• Historically and Philosophically, the Socratic Method
constitutes the foundation of what we know to be Instructional
Conversations

• Facilitates exploration of issues and ideas while
developing and elevating students’ critical thinking skills

• Help our students to feel confident about questioning
anything – including their own ideas and beliefs

• If we as teachers can place our students in a situation
where they are questioned in a way that is friendly,
respectful and useful, we will empower them to experience
the value of good questions
Sources:
   www.socraticmethod.net
   Google image search
   Wikipedia pages: Socrates, Socratic Method
     All   information used is properly cited

				
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