Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The Socratic Method

While cleaning out my browser's bookmarks (yes, I'm obsessive enough to do this once and a while), I stumbled across an article I had read by Rick Garlikov about teaching children using the Socratic Method. The Socratic Method, used extensively in the portrayal of Socrates in Plato's writings, is a form of philosophical exploration using questions to stimulate discussion and insight.

In this context, Garlikov is attempting to teach a third grade class about binary arithmetic by asking only questions and allowing the children to work out the answers themselves. A major part of the article is a transcript of this class, which lasted only 25 minutes and apparently resulted in 19 out of 22 students having "fully and excitedly participated and absorbed the entire material".

The article is a quick and inspiring read and I suggest you take a look. I sometimes think it would be nice to volunteer to work with a group of school children (eToys maybe?) and this would be an interesting approach to play with.

There is also a letter to his daughter with further details on Plato and the Socratic Method. If you are at all interested in pedagogy or philosophy, you might also want to check out some of his other articles. I seem to recall finding the article about mistakes made when teaching math interesting.

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