October 31, 2015

The Socratic Method

Most of us have heard of Socrates, the great Greek philosopher. However, did you know there is a particular style of guided questioning that is given his name? This method is used in many law schools as a way of helping students think through a topic logically and arrive at a knowledgeable conclusion without having been “told.”

The basic method is to ask logical, incremental, step-by-step questions pertaining to the story or topic. The teacher does not ”tell” or lecture. The teacher needs to think through the logical progression of thought they would like to follow beforehand. However, student answers may make it necessary to adapt the preplanned questions in order to get to the final point the teacher hopes to reach. This method keeps students involved and feeling as if they are discovering truth for themselves.

For most Sabbath School teachers this method may require too much preparation (try searching “Socratic method” on the Internet); however, the basic concept of leading students to learning through sequential questioning can be adapted and bring significant rewards to both students and teachers.

In this week’s story there are many lessons about leadership. Here are some tips as you lead the class to insight through careful questioning:

1. Keep the discussion focused.

2. Keep the discussion intellectually responsible.

3. Stimulate the discussion with probing questions.

4. Periodically summarize what has and what has not been dealt with and/or resolved.

5. Draw as many students as possible into the discussion.