Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Teaching Like Socrates


A couple weeks ago I attended a seminar on How to Teach Like Socrates.  This was a 1 Day Practicum through Classical Conversations in Sioux Falls, SD.  I had been wanting to learn more about the Socratic method of asking students multiple questions to help them draw out their own conclusions.  This method is an excellent way to learn how to think for yourself.  It also teaches students within a group how to be gracious towards people who have opinions that differ from their own.  This is used often throughout the six years of CC's Challenge program.

I enjoyed the class for the most part.  The first half of the day was fantastic! There is so much to be said about this idea of simply asking questions to learn!  I also learned about how Socratic circles work!  This was totally new to me!  One group sits in the 'inner circle' and participates in a discussion while the rest of the participants sit in the 'outer circle' only to observe.   I happened to be in the outer circle when the discussion of Harry Potter came up.  I wanted to say something so badly but I could not, for I was in the outer circle. ;-) My opinion was quite different from all the rest that were offered so I thought to have a third take on the subject would have been all the more interesting.  Oh well, that'll have to be for another day! 

We took turns going from the inner to the outer circle.  I would recommend a longer time limit than 10 minutes though, especially for a more challenging topic.  I think it's also important to begin with everyone being on the same page, having already defined terms so that everyone is aware of what exactly the topic is.  Also, I would encourage one not to pick a verse or two out of the Bible at random and try to explain them in a group discussion unless everyone had time to thoroughly read the entire passage ahead of time.  The end result was a little nutty.  The speaker even pointed out how off track from scripture we got right away in one of the discussions. 

Since some of the topics we covered in our little circles were a little elusive to begin with, so I had very little to contribute. Half the time I was just confused at what the purpose of the discussion was.  That and I had an awful sore throat the whole time. :(  

I am definitely looking forward to learning more about this method in the coming years. When done well, I can see how helpful this is in encouraging real discussion and hearing everyone's opinions on the topic.  It will be good for my daughters to learn as they get older.   

I learned a wealth of info about this in Leigh Bortins' book The Question.  The whole book is geared toward that dialectic stage of learning where kids really begin seeking answers to their many questions about life.  Learning how to ask questions is one of the most important skills a student can acquire.  Each question is a starter building block for a whole wealth of info to build on, and that goes for any topic!  





As I learn more about the classical methods of learning, my excitement grows!  I want my kids to get the education that I did not get, and this is most certainly what I was looking for.  It is a completely God-centered education that is sharp, rigorous, and fun!


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