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A school principal writes:

Great Testimonial
on Socratic Method


Dear Dr. Wenger,

I would like to thank you for the privilege of meeting with you and instructing my staff in the techniques of the Modern Socratic Method. I have never seen so many teachers excited about teaching. These techniques have so enhanced their skills that they are eager to come in every day and try something new. To validate these efforts, the children are equally excited about coming to school, knowing that they will "learn” like they never have before. Imagine the situation, if you will—teachers and students excited about learning.

Through observation and teacher anecdotals, I am convinced that these methods wil produce a generation of “accelerated learners.”

The degree of comprehension, the choice of vocabulary, the depth and scope of answers received is simply unbelievable. We have pre-tested the children and will perform a post-test in June. I will send you the results of any empirical data that I accumulate.

Finally, after 37 years in the field of education, education makes sense. I hope to expand this program to other schools, districts, colleges and universities. These are solid teaching techniques that produce remarkable results.

We will continue in our mission to “educate” children. Hopefully, through creating a much better educated populace, we will be able to improve society as a whole.

Once again, thank you.

Dennis J. Welka, Principal
St. Andrew’s Country Day School
Kenmore, New York

Win Wenger comments:

The June 2008 tests came in with very positive results even though only a third of the faculty at the time had received the training. In those tests students demonstrated a very strong correlation between their gains in performance and the amount of modern Socratic method they were exposed to in the classroom. As a result of the performance nearly all the rest of the faculty was trained in modern Socratic Method in October 2008.

I might add that one of the things which kindled excitement, and helped lead to the comments in Mr. Welka’s second paragraph, was that each teacher was discovering “gifted kids in hiding,” in his or her classroom, wisdom and responses from children never deemed capable of such.

That is one of the really great things about buzz-grouping with “Dynamic Format” — it not only engages the students, it gives teachers their first chance to really observe their students in action — and that experience is quite an education for the teacher.

See the instructions here for how and why to buzz-group with Dynamic Format, yours freely to use. How would you like to have similar results happening in a school near you?

The results over the following year then occasioned this information from Principal Welka:

Another Letter of Appreciation
about Socratic Method


One of the basic tenets of Modern Socratic teaching is that learning can be accelerated because the process of learning is enhanced and strengthened through the utilization of their techniques.

It appears that in the second year of implementation the claim seems to be valid. Through the utilization of various Modern Socratic techniques in the classroom, students seem to have a better and deeper understanding of material that is being taught. The accompanying charts illustrate the growth rate of particular cohorts at each grade level.

Although not perfect, the trends indicated demonstrate an acceleration of academic growth from one year to the next. If one can anticipate a normal growth rate of 1.0 per academic year, the results illustrate a growth rate that is double, triple, quadruple and more. The trend shows that the growth increases dramatically the longer the student participates in the program (8th graders testing out at a 12th grade level).

There are several indices that support this statement. The first is the high proportion of scholarships granted for graduates. Scholarship awards amounted to over $250,000 the last two years for approximately 45 students. That's about $5,600 for each student. The second is the increased scoring in NY State assessments. This year the school boasted a 94% rate of students earning threes and fours. That was about a 12% increase from the previous year and almost a 20% increase over the last two years.

If one examines the numbers for each cohort, one can see the arithmetic progression from one grade level to the next. If allowed to extrapolate results into the future, it would be safe to say that students educated by means of Modern Socratic Techniques will experience accelerated academic growth to the point that graduates will be testing out at a high school or collegiate level.

There are several testing areas that will be addressed this year to resolve certain inconsistencies, i.e., Grade 4 Reading and Grade 6 Math. Nevertheless, even these inconsistencies do not affect the final outcome.

Another comparison offering validity to the conclusion of accelerated academic growth is the examination of scores by grade level. Once again, one could expect that after one year of instruction, a student's grade level equivalent should increase by one year. Needless to say, that growth was doubled in Grades 3-5 and took off exponentially in Grades 6-8. As a whole, there was a 3.4 Grade Level increase per grade. Those are remarkable numbers!

So once again we return to the essential questions. Can Modern Socratic Techniques increase and accelerate learning? The answer is a resounding yes! As we enter our third year of implementation, I have every confidence that results cannot only be replicated but can be surpassed. These are techniques that address needs of all children; bright, average and special needs children!

These are techniques that cross all socio-economic and gender lines. These techniques are designed to elicit responses, brain-engaged responses, from all children. They draw the student out and encourage children to problem-solve and discover their own intelligence. Subsequently, they develop a self-confidence that only the satisfaction of success and accomplishment can confer.

Dennis J. Welka, Principal
St. Andrews Country Day School

Win Wenger comments:

How would you like for your classroom or school to be one of the next to report such results? We're willing to help. Inquire under the title, "Modern Socratic Method here?"

Many articles in this website relate to this, most especially the utterly easy-to-apply Instant Replay. Others of special note include Modern Socratic Method and the core Dynamic Format. See also this annotated directory of methods to improve and accelerate learning.

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