The Socratic method is a student-centric teaching method that actively enhances the student’s comprehension and ability to learn. Socrates firmly believed that effective teaching could not be achieved by mere one-sided lecturing. He understood that students have their own individual stores of knowledge as well as learning and when they are encouraged to build upon these, they can learn more efficiently. He also realized that effective teaching happens when the students are engaged deeply in the classroom activities because they can be inspired to analyze the lesson, evaluate, discuss it and develop their own view point upon it.
The Socratic method of teaching is an universally applicable method that can be applied to students of any age, with any subject matter, to achieve the most effective teaching – learning process. To apply the method in your classroom, there are a few key aspects to understand.
The importance of asking the right questions
The Socratic method draws students deeper into the subject matter by encouraging them to take an active part in the learning process. One way in which it is done is by asking questions that prompt them to consider the problem or subject from different perspectives. In effect, questions that require generative answers are important so that the answers become starting points for further discussion or analysis. So a deep understanding of the subject or problem is achieved.
Encouraging collaborative dialogues
The teacher should encourage students to communicate their ideas with each other, collaborate to find answers that satisfy all and to engage in dialogues to reconcile opposing points of view. It is possible only when students are given topics for discussion that require them to revisit their rationale for their arguments and evaluate if their arguments are more sound than that of others.
The process of collaborative dialogue and analysis ensures that all the varying viewpoints upon one topic are brought into the open and all students are exposed to them. It also encourages students to pay heed to varying perspectives, to understand that the view of another may be more logical and more appropriate than their own. The ability to accept other views is very critical for effective learning and growth.
Discussing questions that have more than one correct answer
The Socratic method is heavily reliant on getting the students to share their views upon a specific topic or question. However, in contrast to conventional teaching styles, the questions asked do not have just one simple, direct solution. During the process of getting students to share their views about solutions, the teacher should skillfully highlight the fact that many equally viable solutions exist for the same question.
Further, the students should be asked to justify their responses and demonstrate how and why their solution is appropriate for the question. It enhances the student’s analytical abilities, presentation skills and communication while also ensuring that the classroom is exposed to various answers that are all convincing and true. It promotes their ability to think innovatively about problems and come up with unique solutions rather than remaining limited to traditional ones.