Socratic Method’s Effectiveness

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
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Question:  Why does Socratic Method produce genius in so many of those whom it touches? (Per person, in late classical Greece and in Renaissance Europe, it produced ten million times higher rates of world-class geniuses than we have coming from today’s teaching methods, even with all our modern information resources!)

Answer:  Because to examine your own first-hand perceptions and awarenesses, and to seek to make your response from them, reinforces not only those particular awarenesses but the trait, the behavior, of being aware!

And because that genius is already there in nearly everyone, if given its chance to express and emerge. It’s there in your own awarenesses, not in someone else’s second-hand rote-memorized data.

Question:  Why did our 19th century school system abandon Socratic Method?

Answer:   Because, in our enlarged classes, while you Socratized one student the other forty-nine became restless.

And because, in our enlarged schools, we didn’t have enough teachers who were capable of asking Socratic questions. So we settled for rote, short-term memorization of quantities of information and called that “learning” and settled for tests, paperwork, bureaucracy, and a high failure rate.

And because our so-called educators (their very profession named after Socratic Method!!!), at that time lacked the creativity to understand and come up with modern forms of Socratic Method which can be used to great advantage even in the largest classes.

Basic Problem:  Socratic miracle effect derives from someone’s examining his own awarenesses and seeking to respond from them or to them — thereby reinforcing awareness and reinforcing being aware, according to that most familiar of all laws of behavior, psychology’s Law of Effect (“You get more of what you reinforce.”). Thus, all of your students need to be examining and detailedly, extensively, describing their own awarenesses — in the context of your lesson, of course — and to a meaningful audience. But in a classroom of fifty people and a classroom hour of fifty minutes, how can you give each of your fifty learners sufficient air time (and you enough air time to direct it)?

Basic Answer:  Buzz-grouping. Cooperative team learning. Interactive learning. Task groups. In well-directed pairs and small groups within your overall class, each student enjoys substantial opportunity to examine and describe his or her awarenesses, thereby engaging Socratic miracle effect.

Key Derivative Problems:   With everyone “buzzing,” talking at the same time, how do you control what’s happening, how do you hold focus, how do you keep everyone on task to get the job done?

Key Answer: Tailoring and applying Project Renaissance’s Dynamic Format across the curriculum, as described in the book, Dynamic Teaching, by Harman Benda and Win Wenger, with many working examples, including some for your own classroom.

The Side-Effect Benefits

Students immediately become so involved with what you’re teaching that you no longer have to herd them along with paperwork, pop quizzes, tests, drills, homework, and heavy-handed disciplinary measures, debits and credits. Your work as a genuine teacher and educator becomes far easier and more rewarding. You can give your attention to where it is really needed. You can see much more of what’s really going on. You are happier and your students are much happier and more accomplished.

The other side-effect (whether it’s a benefit or a curse is up to you) is that your students become much more perceptive, start thinking and thinking for themselves, pick up on contradictions in what’s said to them — and they learn your subject!

You can read this corebook, and master modern Socratic Method, in an hour. Dynamic Teaching, by Harman Benda and Win Wenger, provides an easier method, by far, than any other in use now and is even more productive of high-quality learning results.

Other By-Products

For the teacher
  • Satisfying accomplishment
  • Freedom from pressures
  • Time to attend individuals
  • Time to think on and improve what you’re teaching
  • High self-esteem and morale
For your students
  • Satisfying accomplishment
  • Freedom from pressures
  • Gains in social skills
  • Huge gains in language skills
  • Tremendous interest in subject
  • Deserved high self-esteem and morale

Classrooms become a rewarding place to be. Students become empowered to reach their highest potential. Teachers become empowered to work the Socratic Method’s effect in the classroom…and reduce their workload at the same time. All with just one hour’s reading.

Please see the order form in the Books section.

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