The Socratic Method is a method that not many people know about, yet they practice it. To learn about the Socratic Method, we should first learn about Socrates, the one who invented this method. Socrates was one of the most important philosophers, and by that, one of the most difficult to understand. Most of his life and teachings were adapted into the later ages and cultures. However, Socrates didn’t write anything. We know most of his philosophies from his disciple, Plato. Socrates was born in 469 BCE. His father was a sculptor and his mother was a midwife.
He later followed his mother’s profession in being a “midwife to ideas”. Enough about Socrates, let’s talk about his method. One may ask, what is the Socratic Method? According to dictionary. com, the Socratic Method is “the use of questions, as employed by Socrates, to develop a latent idea, as in the mind of a pupil, or to elicit admissions, as from an opponent, tending to establish a proposition”. It’s basically, a technique where one asks questions in order for the person to think deeply and elaborate their answers.
It’s a discussion about a different point of view of a certain topic to open their mind in to thinking “outside the box”, and broaden the horizon of the persons listening. But Socrates did not question his disciples over and over again till they understood. He believed in self-improvement, this way they continue to search for knowledge. As I researched about this method ignorance was a common word I came across. For example, ignorance is bliss and ignorance sprouts desire. Most people today are ignorant to many things in life.
Socrates admitted that he was ignorant but had a beautiful way of thinking. This means that he knew he was ignorant to many things; therefore he had the drive to search constantly for knowledge. Though he was a world renowned philosopher he considered himself to have the same knowledge as everyone around him. He especially learned from the students he taught and from the world he lived in. It amazes me to think that from the moment we began to talk, we started showing some Socratic Methods. As a child, we all get to the stage that we asked everyone, “why”?
Why is the sky blue? Why do you have to go to work? And as a parent one can’t just answer “because”, simply because it’ll kill the child’s drive to be curious and ultimately have them not ask questions. Asking questions is always important to do. If you don’t understand a certain message, after re-reading it a couple of times, the next logical thing to do is ask what was said. Lets take a car drive for example. Suppose you are driving to a friend’s house who just so happen to buy a new house.
You don’t have a gps and your phone is dying so you can’t make any calls. Your best bet is to pull over to the nearest store or gas station and ask where a certain street or landmark is. Don’t you think? However, Socrates method isn’t only used for daily life. The Socratic Method is used in almost everything today, constantly making us question and search for a greater understanding in every aspect. It is in everything from the court room to the class room and even to psychiatrist. Psychiatrists used the Socratic Method in today’s society.
If a patient is suffering from depression, the psychiatrists will use Socratic Method to find the root of the problem by asking questions that will clarify meanings, feelings and consequences. Questions that emphasizes on your true emotions also help to find out your inner self. Questions like, “how does it really make me feel when put me down”? Or “am I really taking what they said out of proportion”? Help you get to the bottom of the depression. These are all examples of how the Socratic Method is used in psychiatrists meetings.
Psychiatrists aren’t the only professionals that use this method. We use this method most as students when teachers/ professors are teaching their everyday classes. When we have classroom discussions and us as students are participating in answering probing questions, we are practicing the Socratic Method. Most of the time teachers never ask questions that have “yes” or “no” answers because they don’t make us think deeper. Usually if a “yes” or “no” question is asked, the word “why” is right behind. Using the word “why” is meant for us to explain our thought and back up our reasons.
In law school especially, the Socratic Method is used for students. As a law student gets prepared for class, his task is easy. It’s not to have bunches and bunches of homework or assignments. His job is to come prepared for class to be ready for discussion on cases. Then the professor will choose any random student and ask that person to summarize the case. After the summary, the professor will ask that student questions that might seem confusing or unclear to test that student’s understanding. Socrates Method has gone a long way from back in the day to still be used in modern time today.
We’ve adapted it to fit our everyday mode of speaking without us realizing. We learned Socrates Method is not only used in teaching but also in psychiatry. Since we were younger, we learned to ask questions. This proves that curiosity is always a good thing to practice. I’m sure if Socrates were to see how we practice his method today, he’d be especially proud of the way we’re allowing our curiosity to expand our knowledge and in Socrates words, “not be ignorant,” which is what he believed was the right thing to do.