Realize High Human Potential of Students in Developing Countries

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
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The majority of the next generation attend not the privileged, spotlight, front-row schools for the select, the elite and advantaged, and the recognized gifted. The majority attend school, if at all, in conditions not conducive to learning, and condemned thereby to lifelong material and human poverty for yet another generation. That majority also represent a huge human resource for those developing nations, which now instead appear to be a huge liability and handicap for them. The recommended solution:

Introduce modern forms of Socratic Method
into the schools.
  • Modern forms of Socratic Method are easy to learn and to teach from — easier than what comfortably situated teachers are using today — easier by far than what teachers in the non-privileged schools can even begin to attempt today. Use of Socratic Method need no longer be restricted to the exceptionally capable teacher working with a few ideal children only, or with a few children of privilege and of the elite.
  • To learn or train the modern forms of Socratic Method does not require, as do most other education-related resources, huge investments of scarce capital. These methods are so simple to learn and use, for virtually no expense, this solution could be in place tomorrow, for the vast majority of your back-rank rural and inner-city and barrio schools.
  • Modern forms of Socratic Method are a specific solution also to the problem so often cited in many of these schools and classrooms — a seemingly impossible variety of backgrounds and ability levels among the students, which until now has meant that whatever didactic instruction was used could reach only a few among these various students and the rest had to fall away into failure, or routed into the lowest, least productive forms of vocational training with their talents unsuspected, untouched, undeveloped, unused. Modern forms of Socratic Method engage and involve all student where they are, whatever their abilities or background, and build from there.
  • Socratic Method is by far the most proven of all teaching methods. “Education” itself is named after its core concept. Throughout 2300 years of history its use has always led to exceptionally high levels of intellectual performance. Through modern behavioral science we now understand “the active ingredient,” just what it is that made Socratic Method the best, most effective educational method throughout history. Through these modern understandings we now have forms of Socratic Method which can be used by anyone, not only the already exceptionally capable or privileged — modern forms as potent and rewarding for even the largest groups of students at a time as the traditional form used with one or two students at a time.

For easy, free instructions how to use modern Socratic Method for groups even of hundreds of students at a time, with everyone as totally involved as had been the one or two students at a time with the traditional version, please see Dynamic Format.

You can see, by the same article, that one does not have to switch totally and immediately to an unfamiliar method. To begin with, a teacher who wishes to underscore a key point of a lesson he or she has just taught, by whatever method, can use “Dynamic Format,” the referenced element of modern Socratic Method, to throw every student into an extended, intensive, searching discussion seeking answers to questions about that very point — and be more focused, more in control, than he or she usually is! And come crisply back to whatever instructional mode had been underway before that dynamic on-task-focused “buzz-group.” As the individual teacher gains confidence, and likes the classroom results, he or she can begin using Socratic Method more and more.

You might also find illuminating a review of some of the types of questions which can be used, at Winsights No. 63, Ask Better Questions, for More Than Just Better Answers.

No matter what the income level is for a school, its faculty, staff, volunteers, even the lay parents, can be trained and supported to really hear each student, to draw that student out at length, in detail, in depth, on his or her own first-hand and deepest and subtlest awarenesses, on topic after topic in the curriculum of studies. No matter what material resources a school does or does not have, its students can be trained and supported to really hear each other, to draw each other (and themselves) out at length, in depth, on the topics of the curriculum and on whatever other matters of general and community importance.

Even as good as you yourself now are, how would YOUR life be different now had YOUR schooling been like that back then?

What will be the strength and viability of a community, indeed a nation, most of whose children came up through such schooling?

Teachers will find it easier to make use of the richness of diversity of cultural backgrounds represented in their classrooms, a major national resource which has until now mostly gotten in the way and had to be discarded or overridden. Students engage in the Socratic process from their unique strengths and build from there:  their differences become unique advantages instead of crippling disadvantages.

More and more of the actual work and effort in the classroom gets done by increasingly enthused students instead of by struggling teachers. Your best and most sensitive teachers don’t have to burn out; they will remain and grow within what is to them an increasingly rewarding, satisfying and productive profession.

  1. On a sheet of paper or in a blank file, please write out a list of all the reasons why this proposed solution absolutely cannot possibly work!
  2. Which of those reasons is biggest? Please re-state that reason into a more specific form, stated as a specific problem.
  3. Please do a specific, formal CPS (Creative Problem-Solving) process on that biggest of all reasons as a problem, by any of the hundreds of available CPS methods now in successful professional use around the world. From even this one website alone, use any of these — for example, the following are among many to be recommended here, because complete instructions are there in each self-taught article, which can be implemented successfully by anyone without previous skills or training. There are no prerequisites before you can use these successfully, nor is any permission required — everything is already right there for you.

Once you’ve done one of these or other specific CPS processes on that specific problem statement —

Surprise! You are now already halfway to solving the problems of your schools.

Surprise! The CPS method you just used is one of the many hundreds of modern forms of Socratic Method. Learn how to use it to teach a subject!

Surprise! There is much more information on this topic freely available to you throughout this website.

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