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What Does Using The Socratic Method Look Like?

Education is one the most worthwhile pursuits. As homeschoolers I assume you can relate to this statement. The approach to educating our youth is vast and varied, but many approaches have one similarity. The student is given one set of information, what is to be considered the only acceptable answer to the purposed question. There seems to be less time for and variation of questions. Therefore, the art of inquiry is slowly being lost.

This painted world of black and white is leading to fiction bleeding into our facts without question. For so long people were taught there is one answer and the teacher was the only person to say if that answer was wrong or right.

Socrates was a rebel of his time. His philosophy held that students should never be fed the answers, instead they should be taught to ask the questions. This process leads to the self-discovery of not only the facts, but the how and why behind them. It instills the learner with confidence and the know-how to answer any question and solve any problem.

Our goal is to teach the art inquiry. What does that mean and how exactly does that look? It means in the formative years we don’t put a hefty focus on unimportant forgetful dates, instead we focus on the bigger picture and the driving forces. What happened and why did it happen? We don’t spew facts and request regurgitation on command. Instead we dive deep by asking the quality questions. For example, our geography lessons are based on observation and intentional questioning. There is no map-tracing, no focus on remembering capitals. We use a globe prior to each lesson and we ask the learner quality questions that lead them in pursuit to find the answers. Further along in the curriculum a sticky flag is added on the globe to the learner’s home state. The learner starts here each morning. With finger hovering over the globe the learner then slowly spins the globe and with the learning partner’s help they stop once the new country of interest is in-line with their finger’s longitude. The questioning begins….

Where is the new country’s location compared to our home, North or South?

Is it closer to the East or West of our home?

How Close is the new country’s location to the Equator?

What does this tell us about the country’s climate?

What might grow in this kind of climate?

Is the new country bordered by mostly land or mostly water?

Now that we know more information, how might this impact their clothing or food options?

The questioning continues the learner knows exactly how to find the country’s location by themselves. To top off this skill they also know why the people of this country might eat a lot fish versus forest animals, why they might have a wardrobe of minimalist clothing that consists of light colors and head coverings versus heavy woolen knits. Why the land in the area might be arid and dry as opposed to cold and wet. They are also gaining full command of geographic terminology through emersion by the way natural conversation and reading.

This approach builds through the levels with the ultimate goal of a well-versed learner that has the skills to creatively problem-solve through gathering pertinent information. It has an added benefit of building up a learner to be more attentive and thoughtful in their inquiry, which reaches far beyond their standard educational years.

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