socratic method


  • The basic form is a series of questions formulated as tests of logic and fact intended to help a person or group discover their beliefs about some topic, explore definitions,
    and characterize general characteristics shared by various particular instances.

  • Its systematic procedure is used to examine a text through questions and answers founded on the beliefs that all new knowledge is connected to prior knowledge, that all thinking
    comes from asking questions, and that asking one question should lead to asking further questions.

  • [11] While Socratic seminars can differ in structure, and even in name, they typically involve a passage of text that students must read beforehand and facilitate dialogue.

  • The seminars encourage students to work together, creating meaning from the text and to stay away from trying to find a correct interpretation.

  • Furthermore, the seminar text enables the participants to create a level playing field – ensuring that the dialogical tone within the classroom remains consistent and pure
    to the subject or topic at hand.

  • According to the literature, this type of seminar is beneficial for teachers who want students to explore a variety of texts around a main issue or topic.

  • [11] This approach is based on the belief that participants seek and gain deeper understanding of concepts in the text through thoughtful dialogue rather than memorizing information
    that has been provided for them.

  • The exact nature of the elenchus is subject to a great deal of debate, in particular concerning whether it is a positive method, leading to knowledge, or a negative method
    used solely to refute false claims to knowledge.

  • Ambiguity: The text must be approachable from a variety of different perspectives, including perspectives that seem mutually exclusive, thus provoking critical thinking and
    raising important questions.

  • Therefore, myth and the Socratic method are not meant by Plato to be incompatible; they have different purposes, and are often described as the “left hand” and “right hand”
    paths to good and wisdom.

  • The pedagogy of Socratic questions is open-ended, focusing on broad, general ideas rather than specific, factual information.

  • The goal of this activity is to have participants work together to construct meaning and arrive at an answer, not for one student or one group to “win the argument”.

  • The teacher’s role is to ensure the discussion advances regardless of the particular direction the discussion takes.

  • Socrates, unlike the Sophists, did believe that knowledge was possible, but believed that the first step to knowledge was recognition of one’s ignorance.

  • [12] The leader keeps the topic focused by asking a variety of questions about the text itself, as well as questions to help clarify positions when arguments become confused.

  • Development In the second half of the 5th century BCE, sophists were teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric to entertain, impress, or persuade
    an audience to accept the speaker’s point of view.

  • This teaches the participants to think and speak persuasively using the discussion to support their position.

  • Each small group may have a different text to read/view and discuss.

  • He states that the teachers who use this method wait for the students to make mistakes, thus creating negative feelings in the class, exposing the student to possible ridicule
    and humiliation.

  • [14] No matter what structure the teacher employs, the basic premise of the seminar/circles is to turn partial control and direction of the classroom over to the students.

  • The Socratic method has also recently inspired a new form of applied philosophy: Socratic dialogue, also called philosophical counseling.

  • Students can work through different issues and key passages from the text.

  • These tools will provide structure for listening and give the outside members specific details to discuss later in the seminar.

  • [10] The questioning technique emphasizes a level of questioning and thinking where there is no single right answer.

  • Rather, the interlocutors have reached aporia, an improved state of still not knowing what to say about the subject under discussion.

  • [17] All participants are given the opportunity to take part in the discussion.

  • This structure allows for students to speak, who may not yet have the confidence to speak in the large group.

  • Opening questions generate discussion at the beginning of the seminar in order to elicit dominant themes.

  • [15] The text ought to be appropriate for the participants’ current level of intellectual and social development.

  • While this is not an exhaustive list, teachers may use one of the following structures to administer Socratic seminar: 1.

  • [16] There is no designated first speaker; as individuals participate in Socratic dialogue, they gain experience that enables them to be effective in this role of initial

  • [17] Ideally it should require multiple readings,[18] but should be neither far above the participants’ intellectual level nor very long.

  • Socratic questioning is used to help students apply the activity to their learning.

  • Simultaneous Seminars can also be used for a particularly difficult text.

  • Socratic seminars generally start with an open-ended question proposed either by the leader or by another participant.

  • When the text has been fully discussed and the inner circle is finished talking, the outer circle provides feedback on the dialogue that took place.

  • “[9] Application Socrates generally applied his method of examination to concepts that seem to lack any concrete definition; e.g., the key moral concepts at the time, the
    virtues of piety, wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice.

  • Socrates rarely used the method to actually develop consistent theories, instead using myth to explain them.

  • The Socratic method (also known as method of Elenchus, elenctic method, Socratic Tradition, or Socratic debate) is a form of argumentative dialogue between individuals, based
    on asking and answering questions.

  • Instead of arriving at answers, the method was used to break down the theories we hold, to go “beyond” the axioms and postulates we take for granted.

  • It can be used to clarify meaning, feeling, and consequences, as well as to gradually unfold insight, or explore alternative actions.


Works Cited

[‘1. “Understanding the Socratic Method of Teaching”. Abraham Lincoln University. 10 February 2020. Archived from the original on September 21, 2020. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
2. ^ Jarratt, Susan C. Rereading the Sophists: Classical Rhetoric Refigured.
Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991., p 83.
3. ^ Sprague 1972, p. 5.
4. ^ Liddell, Scott and Jones, Greek-English Lexicon, 9th Edition.
5. ^ Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition; Oxford English
6. ^ Gregory Vlastos, “The Socratic Elenchus”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy I, Oxford 1983, 27–58.
7. ^ Michael Frede, “Plato’s Arguments and the Dialogue Form”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 1992,
Oxford 1992, 201–19.
8. ^ Stephen Salkever, “Methods of Interpreting Plato and his Dialogues” Archived 2016-09-12 at the Wayback Machine (Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
9. ^ W. K. C. Guthrie (1968) The Greek Philosophers from Thales to Aristotle,
page 74, London: Routledge.
10. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Copeland, Matt (2010). Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
11. ^ Jump up to:a b “The Socratic Circle” (PDF).
Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 February 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
12. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m “Furman: Socratic Seminar” (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
13. ^ Ting Chowning,
Jeanne (October 2009). “Socratic Seminars in Science Class”. The Science Teacher. National Science Teachers Association. 76 (7): 38.
14. ^ Gose, Michael (January 2009). “When Socratic Dialogue is Flagging: Questions and Strategies for Engaging Students”.
College Teaching. 57 (1): 46. doi:10.3200/CTCH.57.1.45-50. S2CID 144482413.
15. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “The Paideia Seminar: active thinking through dialogue. 3.4 Planning step 3: Select text”. Archived from the original on August 15, 2012. Retrieved
July 16, 2012.
16. ^ Jump up to:a b c Chorzempa, Barbara; Lapidus, Laurie (January 2009). “To Find Yourself, Think For Yourself”. Teaching Exceptional Children. 41 (3): 54–59. doi:10.1177/004005990904100306. S2CID 146880761.
17. ^ Jump up to:a
b c d Mangrum, Jennifer (April 2010). “Sharing Practice Through Socratic Seminars”. Kappan. 91 (7): 40–43. doi:10.1177/003172171009100708. S2CID 144053420.
18. ^ Jump up to:a b “Facing History and Ourselves: Socratic Seminar”. Archived from the
original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
19. ^ Gose, Michael (2009). “When Socratic Dialogue Is Flagging; Questions and Strategies for Engaging Students”. College Teaching. 57 (1): 45–50. doi:10.3200/CTCH.57.1.45-50. S2CID 144482413.
20. ^
Lukas, Elisabeth, Logotherapy Textbook, 2000, p. 86
21. ^ Overholser 1993, p. 75–85.
22. ^ Overholser 1993, p. 286-293.
23. ^ Overholser 1993, p. 283-292.
24. ^ Delic , Becirovic, Haris, Senad (November 2016). “Socratic Method as an Approach
to Teaching”. Russian Federation European Researcher – via
25. ^ Delic,Becirovic, Haris, Senad (November 2016). “Socratic Method as an Approach to Teaching”. Russian Federation European Researcher. 111: 511–517 – via

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