Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Socrates in the classroom develops students’ thinking and changes the distribution of power

07.05.2008
When students have the opportunity to participate in “Socratic seminars” on a regular basis, a different classroom culture evolves. The students collaborate more and more voices are heard. The students develop their thinking skills in a cooperative and investigative atmosphere. This is shown in a new dissertation in Pedagogy by Ann S Pihlgren at the Stockholm University in Sweden.

The Socratic dialogue is a particular way of developing children’s, as well as adults’, thinking skills through cooperative dialogue where significant human ideas and values are discussed. By participating in Socratic seminars regularly every other week, preschool children and older students develop their thinking skills.

The seminars address literature and art work, with questions such as these: is Pippi Longstocking is a good friend, is Jack is stupid or smart when he sells his mother’s cow for some beans or are we born good or evil. In the beginning the students have difficulty expressing their thoughts, but with time their ability to express themselves and to examine ideas critically and logically develops.

The study included seven groups of children, five to sixteen years old. The groups were filmed during three years of philosophizing in the classroom and the films were analyzed. The interaction in the classroom was positively influenced, according to Ann S Pihlgren. The teacher dominated less, more students spoke and the students gradually took over the responsibilities of the teacher to promote exploration in the dialogue. The ability to use the Socratic seminar is learned by students and teachers through practice and by testing the rules of the seminar. The students construct a supportive group culture through their silent interaction, where gestures, glances, and body language are used to show not only support or sympathy for each other, but also cooperation with each other when someone attempts to disturb or to provoke the dialogue. The teacher role changes to one of support, ensuring that the analysis is fruitful and that the dialogue is respectful.

Socratic methods have developed independently in various countries. They all describe a set of methodological steps to attain similar objectives. An opening question is answered by all participants and followed by cooperative, critical analysis. Finally, the new ideas are connected to the everyday life experience of the participants.

It seems as if this ritualized structure and the nurturing culture of the seminar provide a safe circle, helping the participants to try new, bold ideas that they might otherwise not have tested, Ann S Pihlgren says. By cooperating when examining the ideas they also seem to learn a way to address problems on their own without teacher intervention.

To work with methods connected to the ancient philosopher Socrates may seem out-of-date in a modern school, but that is absolutely not the case, Ann S Pihlgren states.

The Socratic seminars have been seen as a complement to traditional classroom teaching for hundreds of years. But it is not easy to learn how to stage them to get positive effects. It is especially hard for teachers, who often fall back to their traditional, controlling “teacher” roles. The dissertation offers excellent tools for teachers who want to develop students’ thinking and to foster cooperative group dialogue.

The name of the dissertation: Socrates in the Classroom. Rationales and Effects of Philosophizing with Children. The dissertation could be downloaded as pdf at http://www.diva-portal.org/su/theses/abstract.xsql?dbid=7392 .

Additional facts
Socrates (470-399 BC) Greek philosopher assumed in his dialogues that human reason has a right to impartially explore all subjects. He left no written work, we know him mostly through Plato’s (427-347 BC) dialogues.

Plato was Socrates disciple and a prominent figure within the idealistic tradition of Western philosophy. Socrates worked through what he called maieutics, midwifery. Through elenchus (Greek for inquiring, refuting), exploring questioning the questioner will help the participants to give birth to their thoughts.

Similar methods was developed and practiced in the beginning of 20th century by the Swedish popular educators Hans Larsson and Oscar Olsson, in Germany in the 1920s by Leonard Nelson and in the USA during the later 20th century by Mortimer J Adler.

In Sweden the dialogues were introduced by Lars Lindström. The seminars are practiced as a pedagogical method at the Freinet Academy in Norrtälje, Sweden www.mimer.org.

The students in the study are 5 to 16 years old (grade 9).

Jonas Åblad | alfa
Further information:
http://www.diva-portal.org/su/theses/abstract.xsql?dbid=7392

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Decision-making research in children: Rules of thumb are learned with time
19.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht Young people discover the "Learning Center"
20.09.2016 | Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering GmbH

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>