Can it be, Ischomachus, that asking questions is teaching? I am just beginning to see what is behind all your questions. You lead me on by means of things I know, point to things that resemble them, and persuade me that I know things that I thought I had no knowledge of.
- Socrates (Quoted in Xenophon's "Economics")
What is the Socratic Method?
It was called elenchus which means inquiry or cross-examination.
The "method" has been used in several different ways throughout history, so a clear
cut definition of what the socratic method is-impossible. Socrates himself never wrote out a "method" for use. Essentially it is a way to seek truths or new beliefs by your own means. Classic Socratic Method uses a series of questions to discard a proposed statement or idea. The deconstructive style of questions makes it exactly what it is. It provokes deeper thinking, intelligence and reasoning. Eventually, the end result is that the person who made the statement will hopefully be able to look at the matter from a new perspective.
A Socratic questioner should:
a) keep the discussion focused
b) keep the discussion intellectually responsible
c) stimulate the discussion with probing questions
d) periodically summarize what has and what has not been dealt with and/or resolved
e) draw as many students as possible into the discussion.
Why Use Socratic Questioning?
It is a tool that helps others to think critically by "focusing explicitly on the process of thinking." Through questioning, the person answering must examine their thoughts, thought patterns, etc. (This leads to reflective thinking). Here are some goals which this process strives to achieve.
* Model practices of inquiry
* Support active learning and reflective thinking
* Facilitate inquiry-based learning
* Help to construct knowledge
* Help to develop problem-solving skills
* Improve long-term retention of knowledge
How to use the Socratic Method in argument:
1. A person will submit a statement.
2. The person using Socratic Method will examine the statement,
assuming that it is false, and will ask questions to prove against it.
3. The person who made the statement will make another, related to the first.
4.Change the initial statement into a refined statement.
Eventually, your goal is to simply provide insight or new perspective to the
person who made the first statement. You do not want to continually use this,
as it can be taken as argumentative. It's fun when you want to think critically.
Here's a wonderful exmaple of this that I found:
A:"This table is blue."
B:"To a blind person, is this table still blue?"
If A says no, proceed to the next step.
If A says yes, ask:
"What makes it blue to a blind person, and not green, or pink, or purple?"
B:"So the table is blue only to those who can see."