by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center devotes her latest column to the Socratic method of education.
One of the most notable hallmarks of classical education, in both secondary and postsecondary schools, is the use of the Socratic method. Named after the Greek philosopher Socrates, the Socratic method involves teachers posing questions to students, prompting them to think through what they know and deduce the most logical answer. It is distinct from the typical lecture model, where the student quietly takes notes as the teacher speaks.
The Socratic method is an effective tool for student learning, and it also embodies an ideal central to classical education’s mission: intellectual humility—an idea that was discussed at a recent meeting of classical educators in North Carolina.
On October 4th, educators from two K-12 education organizations, Thales Academy and the Institute for Classical Education, came together at the Regional Classical Symposium in an effort to “renew classical education for the next generation” in Rolesville, North Carolina.
The symposium’s overarching theme was “Reading as Soul-Formation: How Great Books Change Lives.” During the symposium, educators spoke about living the examined life, cultivating one’s “moral imagination,” and how words provide an understanding of objective reality.
The final talk of the day focused on ways teachers can use the Socratic method in their classrooms. The lecturer, professor Matthew Post of the University of Dallas, discussed Plato’s Republic and its famous Socratic dialogues. Post explained that a Socratic seminar is a guided, focused discussion. “You’re not being dictated to; you’re being invited into a conversation,” he said.