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Teach Like Socrates: Guiding Socratic…

Teach Like Socrates: Guiding Socratic Dialogues and Discussions in the…

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A viable introduction to Socrates methods. I think this would be a good starting place for anyone wanting to bring these methods into their classroom or workplace meetings.
  Amanda_M._Lowe | Apr 3, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Erick Wilberding's Teach Like Socrates is an adequate introduction to the Socratic method as it might be used in the class room. The author's first objective, to introduce the Socratic method to his readers is very well accomplished. Wilberding not only provides a useful, non-theory laden, explanation of who Socrates was and how he taught, he includes a number of examples as to how the Socratic method is beneficial in the classroom and how it can be used. This is also, however, where the book falls short. All of Wilberding's examples work very well for a humanities or liberal arts course as they are grounded in dialogue and critical thinking through discussion. Given the Socratic emphasis on ethics, politics, and the like, this should come as no surprise. However, no examples are given, however, for areas outside these disciplines. As such, it is unclear how a biology or chemistry class could use the Socratic method. Also, while the book claims to align with common core standards, it does not take into consideration the test-heavy emphasis of the common core. In fact, arguably, it does the opposite, aiming to teach skills that are invariably useful in real life, but not as useful in facing a common core test. ( )
  JSKupperman | Jan 7, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Teach Like Socrates aims to provide two things: first, an explanation of what Socratic dialogue is and why one might want to use it in the classroom; second, a practical guide for how to implement Socratic discussions in the classroom.

In the first goal, I feel the book succeeds. Wilberding gives a fair degree of detail about Socratic dialogue and how it has been used in education, historically, devoting about a quarter of the book solely to a discussion of Scorates's life and the definition (or, rather, definitions) of Socratic dialogue that will be used in the book.

In the second goal, I feel the book was less successful. Wilberding does provide what may be a useful framework for planning Socratic discussions, including 'worked examples' of lesson plans, but much of the advice and discussion boils down to "plan in advance".

I would have liked to see more discussion of how a Socratic discussion could be led in a real classroom. The dialogues of Plato, of course, are literary works, not transcriptions, and in a real classroom convenient examples won't always fall out of the discussion when needed. The book is adamant that the teacher not interject into the discussion with mini-lectures, or lead students too strictly, or, frankly, express any opinion at all. The question of how to guide the discussion in the face of actual student participation is simply dismissed: ". . . the dialogue in the classroom will make any necessary adaptation . . ."

The book offers examples of three lessons: "Induction and the Use of Examples: Lysis", "The Use of Counterexamples: Xenophon's Memorabilia", and "Slipery Slopes and Order Bias". All important topics relevant to the theme of critical thinking the book promotes, but also all very similar topics: they relate to argument, and so the use of a dialogue as example is natural.

Socrates's discussions were not about the business of arguing, they were about ethics or politics or a variety of other topics. If, as Wilberding says, Socratic discussions are such good teaching tools, why not show how to use them to teach algebra, biology, music, or any other topic which isn't intimately bound up with the idea of dialogue itself?

I do think that Socratic discussions can be useful in the classroom, if perhaps not for every classroom at all times, but Teach Like Socrates needs to do more to establish how to use Socratic discussions to aid in teaching the topics that students need to learn, rather than simply advising that amenable topics be chosen so that Socratic discussion may be used. The goal, after all, is the education of the students, not the promulgation of the method. ( )
  Sopoforic | Jul 4, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dr. Wilberding's text on employing the socratic method in classroom discussions for the K-12 setting. Going into the text, I was concerned that there may be extensive theoretical frameworks with which the reader must grapple before practical examples of the socratic method would be relevant. I was pleasantly surprised that one mustn't be an educator to fully value the utility of this text. For anyone who facilitates workshops or presents material to children and teenagers, reading this text will provide significant material to expand upon general lecture content. This work would have received five starts from me, however, I felt that Dr. Wilberding's inclusion and exposition of the Common Core standards as they relate to the socratic method were hastily added into the text without serious consideration of practical application to teachers. ( )
  Keanu-Heydari | Jun 27, 2014 |
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