Socratic Philosophy

Socratic Philosophy Philosophy of Education Learning is a complex process aquired through a variety of experiences. Cooperation between a teacher and student facilitates the greatest growth in each students intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. Cirriculum must be relevant to the needs of individuals while enhancing both respect and communication within a multicultural society. A supportive enviroment allows students to develop a positive attitude towards learning for life. Students do not get bored or lose concentration if they are actively participating.

If lesson plans permit, students will participate actively in unison or one after another. The Socratic method allows students to learn for themselves. As the educator, you produce questions to the class that allow them to think and work together which also allows them to learn together. For instance, without lecturing to the class, a lesson could be taught in a health education by asking questions about their reading assignment. What are the benefits of not smoking? In response, the class works in unison to piece together the answers.

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This improves social skills, which stated before, will improve violence and behavior issues. The chief benefits of this method are that it excites students’ curiosity and arouses their thinking, rather than stifling it. It also makes teaching more interesting, because most of the time, you learn more from the students — or by what they make you think of — than what you knew going into the class. Each group of students is just enough different, that it makes it stimulating. It is a very efficient teaching method, because the first time through tends to cover the topic very thoroughly, in terms of their understanding it. It is more efficient for their learning then lecturing to them is, though, of course, a teacher can lecture in less time. Finally, two of the interesting, perhaps side, benefits of using the Socratic method are that it gives the students a chance to experience the attendant joy and excitement of discovering (often complex) ideas on their own.

And it gives teachers a chance to learn how much more inventive and bright a great many more students are than usually appear to be when they are primarily passive. Students do not get bored or lose concentration if they are actively participating. Almost all of these children participated the whole time; often calling out in unison or one after another. If necessary, I could have asked if anyone thought some answer might be wrong, or if anyone agreed with a particular answer. You get extra mileage out of a given question that way. I did not have to do that here.

Their answers were almost all immediate and very good. If necessary, you can also call on particular students; if they don’t know, other students will bail them out. Calling on someone in a non-threatening way tends to activate others who might otherwise remain silent. That was not a problem with these kids. Remember, this was not a gifted class. It was a normal suburban third grade of whom two teachers had said only a few students would be able to understand the ideas.

The chief benefits of this method are that it excites students’ curiosity and arouses their thinking, rather than stifling it. It also makes teaching more interesting, because most of the time, you learn more from the students — or by what they make you think of — than what you knew going into the class. Each group of students is just enough different, that it makes it stimulating. It is a very efficient teaching method, because the first time through tends to cover the topic very thoroughly, in terms of their understanding it. It is more efficient for their learning then lecturing to them is, though, of course, a teacher can lecture in less time.

It gives constant feed-back and thus allows monitoring of the students’ understanding as you go. So you know what problems and misunderstandings or lack of understandings you need to address as you are presenting the material. You do not need to wait to give a quiz or exam; the whole thing is one big quiz as you go, though a quiz whose point is teaching, not grading. Though, to repeat, this is teaching by stimulating students’ thinking in certain focused areas, in order to draw ideas out of them; it is not teaching by pushing ideas into students that they may or may not be able to absorb or assimilate. Further, by quizzing and monitoring their understanding as you go along, you have the time and opportunity to correct misunderstandings or someone’s being lost at the immediate time, not at the end of six weeks when it is usually too late to try to go back over the material.

And in some cases their ideas will jump ahead to new material so that you can meaningfully talk about some of it out of your own order, but in an order relevant to them. Or you can tell them you will get to exactly that in a little while, and will answer their question then. Or suggest they might want to think about it between now and then to see whether they can figure it out for themselves first. There are all kinds of options, but at least you know the material is live for them, which it is not always when you are lecturing or just telling them things or they are passively and dutifully reading or doing worksheets or listening without thinking. These are the four critical points about the questions: 1) they must be interesting or intriguing to the students; they must lead by 2) incremental and 3) logical steps (from the students’ prior knowledge or understanding) in order to be readily answered and, at some point, seen to be evidence toward a conclusion, not just individual, isolated points; and 4) they must be designed to get the student to see particular points.

You are essentially trying to get students to use their own logic and therefore see, by their own reflections on your questions, either the good new ideas or the obviously erroneous ideas that are the consequences of their established ideas, knowledge, or beliefs. Therefore you have to know or to be able to find out what the students’ ideas and beliefs are. You cannot ask just any question or start just anywhere. It is crucial to understand the difference between logically leading questions and psychologically leading questions. Logically leading questions require understanding of the concepts and principles involved in order to be answered correctly; psychologically leading questions can be answered by students’ keying in on clues other than the logic of the content.

For the Socratic method to work as a teaching tool and not just as a magic trick to get kids to give right answers with no real understanding, it is crucial that the important questions in the sequence must be logically leading rather than psychologically leading. There is no magic formula for doing this, but one of the tests for determining whether you have likely done it is to try to see whether leaving out some key steps still allows people to give correct answers to things they are not likely to really understand. Further, in the case of binary numbers, I found that when you used this sequence of questions with impatient or math-phobic adults who didn’t want to have to think but just wanted you to get to the point, they could not correctly answer very far into even the above sequence. That leads me to believe that answering most of these questions correctly, requires understandingof the topic rather than picking up some external sorts of clues in order to just guess correctly. Plus, generally when one uses the Socratic method, it tends to become pretty clear when people get lost and are either mistaken or just guessing.

Their demeanor tends to change when they are guessing, and they answer with a questioning tone in their voice. Further, when they are logically understanding as they go, they tend to say out loud insights they have or reasons they have for their answers. When they are just guessing, they tend to just give short answers with almost no comment or enthusiasm. They don’t tend to want to sustain the activity. Finally, two of the interesting, perhaps side, benefits of using the Socratic method are that it gives the students a chance to experience the attendant joy and excitement of discovering (often complex) ideas on their own. And it gives teachers a chance to learn how much more inventive and bright a great many more students are than usually appear to be when they are primarily passive.

This was to be the Socratic method in what I consider its purest form, where questions (and only questions) are used to arouse curiosity and at the same time serve as a logical, incremental, step-wise guide that enables students to figure out about a complex topic or issue with their own thinking and insights. In a less pure form, which is normally the way it occurs, students tend to get stuck at some point and need a teacher’s explanation of some aspect, or the teacher gets stuck and cannot figure out a question that will get the kind of answer or point desired, or it just becomes more efficient to tell what you want to get across. If telling does occur, hopefully by that time, the students have been aroused by the questions to a state of curious receptivity to absorb an explanation that might otherwise have been meaningless to them. Many of the questions are decided before the class; but depending on what answers are given, some questions have to be thought up extemporaneously. Education Essays.

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