Socratic Method at a Glance
Origins: Greek Stoics, 2nd and 3rd Centuries B.C., the Athenian Socrates.
Effects: Such “miracle leaps” of understanding, learning, and personal growth occurred that its practitioners became convinced “all knowledge and understanding are (somehow) already within each learner and need merely be ‘drawn forth.’” (We don’t have to assume it all is, to recognize that much more is from a variety of sources than gets used under conventional circumstances.) These “miracle effects” were reliable enough and consistent enough for the entire “education” profession to be named after the concept of “drawing-forth” (educare).
History: First round of use, in late classical Greece, a population base of a few tens of thousands of people on whom it was used produced a greater number of world-class geniuses than Earth’s entire six billion people today are producing with didactic schooling, even with today’s advantages of technology and the Information Age. The second round of use, in Renaissance Europe, saw a population base of a few hundred thousand people on whom it was used produce a greater number of world-class geniuses than today’s six billion people.
Explanation of Effects: The method induced one to relate directly to his or her own first-hand awarenesses, examining these to answer questions or challenges and seeking to respond directly from those first-hand awarenesses. This engages the most fundamental natural law of behavior, the Law of Effect (“you get more of what you reinforce”), to reinforce
Evolution of Method: the original forms of Socratic Method, direct one-on-one dialog, question and challenge, could only be used on 1-2 learners at a time. In larger classes, the other 49 students would get restless, a main reason why American “education” changed from Socratic to Prussian.
The world-wide creativity movement, beginning in the 1950s, without knowing it revived Socratic Method and did so in a broad range of variants, because it sought out the most effective techniques for the purpose, and these happened to be essentially Socratic (see “Explanation of Effects” above). The last few years have seen Project Renaissance deriving from creativity method, and from modern understandings of behavior, learning, the mind and brain, many various modern forms of Socratic Method which are even more powerful, easier to use, and useful with many learners at one time.
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