Monday, March 23, 2009

Socratic Method

Learn UNC, From The UNC School Of Education

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

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