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The Socratic Method- The new but old way to teach, and learn

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” Socrates, the great Greek philospher said this. Socrates was known for his immense contributions to the understanding about the world and his teachings. He is considered one of the greatest teachers ever but that contradicts with his own quote. He said how he can’t actually teach anyone anything but can only make them think. Looking at this, one can make that this is the connection to the Socratic Method or Socratic Learning developed by Socrates.

The Socratic Method is a type of teaching where there is usually a group of students and a main question is posed. However, instead of a teacher directing the discussion and controlling it, the students do it themselves. Now, you might be thinking what is so special about this, it is just a group discussion. That is wrong though. While the premise is fairly simple, Socratic Learning helps develop ideas and theories much better than most common ways of teaching.

Recently, I overheard someone talking about the flaws in our current education system. They said how the only thing teachers do is make students copy writing off of the board. They then went on to bash how students have no real way of learning. Hearing this made me think, most schools have technology better than ever before and even those that don’t usually have a basic computer system. Even with technology, I thought, do you even need technology? Applying Socratic Learning can make teaching and learning better than even the best technology.

The benefits of Socratic Learning are immense. First off, students actually get to try and teach themselves instead of being directed by only the teacher. While this may seem like a bad idea since students can’t teach themselves if they don’t know what they are teaching, it is actually very beneficial. When students have the chance to try to explain ideas and topics to each other they get multiple view points and ideas of thinking. They aren’t just getting that one point of view from the teacher which may not reach all students’ needs. Being a student myself who has participated in Socratic Learning, I can honestly say that I would rather have Socratic Seminars, also known has Socratic Circles, than any other form of a lesson. Being able to talk freely and debate, discuss, and just interact in general with others over a topic outweighs any other form of learning. Secondly, students can develop a better understanding of how to make connections. Schools are constantly emphasizing the important of making connections. There is a reason that when writing papers, whether it is for English or Social Studies, the teacher always emphasizes a connection must be made to something such as a real life situation, a novel, or a movie. Connections between ideas and topics allow for a better understanding of the subject.

Ultimately, I truly believe that Socrates would laugh at what people say about him today. Himself not believing he is a teacher but scholars prasing him as one of the best ever, now that is not what he expected. Either way, the quote “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”, proves to show what Socrates thought about the Socratic Method. Let the students teach themselves and think for themselves. Some think it is a radical idea that goes against all precedents but I ask, even if you aren’t a teacher but maybe work in a business where you have to discuss ideas for an up coming event, just try it and see what happens. It can’t hurt.

  • BillPosters

    Just one problem. There is no evidence that Socrates actually said that. It’s more likely that someone who is still alive today came up with this “quote” based on their interpretation of Socrates philosophy. It spread on the interwebs as memes do, and now here we are in a comments box balancing the scales.