What is the Socratic Method in education?

The Socratic Method is a form of teaching that is based on dialogue between teacher and student. This technique focuses on the discussion of questions and answers to help the learner reach his or her own conclusions. Thus, the goal of the Socratic Method is, consequently, to stimulate critical thinking, reflection, and promote independent learning.

If used correctly, the Socratic Method can help promote critical thinking, develop knowledge and foster problem-solving skills in children. The Socratic Method moves away from instruction and adopts a more conversational approach to teaching, so that through dialogue and questioning, parents can give their children the opportunity to reflect and express their ideas and opinions.

This can be especially useful when addressing complex topics, such as morality, or when fostering a deeper understanding of the subject matter. And as if that weren’t enough, in addition to facilitating the exchange of ideas and understanding of different perspectives, the Socratic Method can help children form answers to questions independently, thus validating their own ideas.

Where does the Socratic Method come from?

The Socratic Method comes from the Greek philosopher Socrates, who already used it to deepen the opinion of his students through questioning. This allowed him to expose contradictions and encourage people to question what they were told, looking beyond the obvious.

Today, the Socratic Method is still widely used in medical and legal education to help students understand more complex concepts and principles, so it remains very important. But there are also a number of ways in which teachers can question their students under the Socratic Method, usually located at opposite ends of a spectrum.

Be that as it may, what is clear today is that this teaching technique has proven to be an effective tool for helping students develop critical skills and deepen knowledge in many different areas, so we need to know about it.

Education and the Socratic Method

The Socratic Method has played an important role in the field of education for many centuries, and is considered by many to be Socrates’ greatest philosophical contribution to the world. This method is based on the idea that knowledge is acquired through dialogue and questioning, and some of its basic principles focus on challenging the student to self-analysis and discussion in order to promote reflective thinking.

During the process, one can better understand the subject matter and develop one’s own opinions, but Socrates also encouraged people to question what they were told and to look beyond the obvious, encouraging motivation and critical thinking. This means that, through the Socratic Method, students can develop the ability to question the commonly accepted idea, which will induce them to think critically about any situation, making them more aware of their decisions.

In short, this educational philosophy is a collaborative path in which the educator is limited to being a “facilitator”, that is, someone capable of helping the student to develop his or her own criteria in the best way.

Irony and maieutics in the Socratic Method.

Irony and maieutics are two fundamental tools of the Socratic Method that help students think critically and come to their own conclusions, but let’s look at it in more detail:

  • Irony

Irony is a form of speech in which one thing is said, but another is meant. For example, a teacher may say to a student, “You are very clever!” when in fact he means that the student has not understood the subject at all.

Instead of giving his own answers, Socrates used irony to lead students in a direction that would cause them to discover their own answers, answers that were previously hidden from them.

Questioning conventional wisdom allowed Socrates to get to the root of complex issues and to encourage in-depth debate and discussion.

  • Maieutics

Maieutics is a technique of questions and answers that Socrates used to help his students discover the truth. This technique is based on the principle that the truth is within each of us, and that the teacher must help the student to find it.

The way to do this, for his part, is by questioning the answers until a contradiction is found in order to arrive at real knowledge. This technique was seen to be similar to the process of childbirth, in that Socrates used it to help students “give birth” to their own ideas, guiding them through the process of coming to the conclusion on their own.

Socrates understood that it was our eternal soul that held all the ideas within people and that the answers could be found there, so his method simply looked for some tools to get them found. Isn’t it fabulous? Have you heard of this method before?