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Developed from Plato’s Socratic Dialogues, the Socratic approach challenges learners to develop their own critical thinking skills and engage in analytic discussion. “Socratic questioning is a systematic process for examining the ideas, questions, and answers that form the basis of human belief. It involves recognizing that all new understanding is linked to prior understanding.”
A group leader (or questioner) engages participants by asking open-ended questions that require generative answers. Ideally, the answers to the questions serve as a beginning for further analysis and research. The questioning process requires participants to consider how they rationalize about a particular topic.
The goal and benefit of the Socratic Method is to aid participants in processing information and engage in a deeper understanding of a particular topic. Most importantly, rather than engaging in a competitive debate, the Socratic Method allows participants to dialogue and discuss the topic in a collaborative and open-minded manner.
Unfortunately, the success of the Socratic methodology often depends on the quality of the initial question that initiates the investigative discussion. As a result, the first question posed by the questioner to the participants must:
*arise from the curiosity of the leader
*not have a single "right" answer
*be structured to generate dialogue that leads to a clearer understanding of the topic
*require participants to refer to concrete data or textual resources