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How Thinking Socratically Can Strengthen the Education System

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Montclair chapter.

What is thinking socratically? How does one even do such a thing?

One can think socratically by asking questions, having an open mind in the discussion and being genuinely curious. It’s important to think well, with others and for yourself while doing this exercise because students can learn from each other. The Socratic method is used in these discussions to create an atmosphere or environment where teachers and students can gather thoughts and ideas to find a deeper understanding of the subject they’re talking about with the goal of having the most reasonable answer.

However, the teacher doesn’t give students the “correct” answer but lets them come up with what THEY think is the most logical one. This can lead to students correcting themselves at the end of the discussion because they obtained new information and formed a different opinion. Having this type of inquiry in a classroom, especially at a young age, can teach students not to be afraid to ask questions and be eager to learn while finding the truth and deeper meaning of what’s being discussed.

The K-12 education system has mainly taught students that it’s important to get the correct answer on homework, quizzes and tests, and as a result, they would get a decent or good grade. The instructor’s goal is to usually focus solely on getting through the materials in the curriculum for the student to pass the final exam (NJASK, PARCC, SAT/ACT) or the class itself. Meanwhile, if students are taught to think socratically, they will encourage discussion and ask questions. This would improve participation rates in classrooms, especially now that students are so used to Zoom and sitting at home quietly staring at a computer screen for hours because they would feel free to speak their minds since there’s no “right” or “wrong” answer.

Focusing on this type of teaching method can inspire students to want to learn and understand the material while promoting creativity. This would make lessons more valuable and memorable resulting in students carrying the information/skills they learned in their future careers. This also allows students to teach themselves by having them practice certain skills they need to find the most reasonable answer.

For example, I watched a video in class about a teacher using Socratic pedagogy in the classroom, and he had his students repair a bike which taught them how to think critically and think with others. If the bike still didn’t work, they had to figure out how and why the bike doesn’t work. The teacher didn’t give them the bike manual but instead, had them work as a group to find the most reasonable explanation for how to fix the bike.

I became interested in writing about this concept of learning because of the class I’m currently taking called “Philosophical Orientation to Education” where students learn about three different pedagogies; Socratic, social justice and contemplative, and how they can be used in education and real life. I feel that many people aren’t aware of this type of education and think it deserves more attention. Thinking Socratically can make significant changes in the education system and students’ lives. Perhaps, the traditional way of teaching may not always be the best way for students to learn and succeed.

Kim Lamparello

Montclair '23

Kim Lamparello is a senior at Montclair State University, majoring in Journalism and minoring in Criminal Justice. She is the President of the Her Campus Montclair chapter!