What is Plan B? Not Plan A!
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teaching styles - Donald Clark Plan B - 2 views
Socrates was one of the few teachers who actually died for his craft, executed by the Athenian authorities for supposedly corrupting the young. Most learning professionals will have heard of the ‘Socratic method’ but few will know that he never wrote a single word describing this method, fewer still will know that the method is not what it is commonly represented to be.How many have read the Socratic dialogues? How many know what he meant by his method and how he practised his approach? Socrates, in fact, wrote absolutely nothing. It was Plato and Xenophon who record his thoughts and methods through the lens of their own beliefs. We must remember, therefore, that Socrates is in fact a mouthpiece for the views of others. In fact the two pictures painted of Socrates by these two commentators differ hugely. In the Platonic Dialogues he is witty, playful and a great philosophical theorist, in Xenophon he is a dull moraliser.Socratic methodTh
he was among the first to recognise that, in terms of learning, ideas are best generated from the learner in terms of understanding and retention. Education is not a cramming in, but a drawing out.
- Learning as a social activity pursued through dialogue
- Questions lie at the heart of learning to draw out what they already know, rather than imposing pre-determined views
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it is only in the last few decades, through the use of technology-based tools that allow search, questioning and now, adaptive learning, that Socratic learning can be truly realised on scale.
In practice, Socrates was a brutal bully, described by one pupil as a ‘predator which numbs its victims with an electric charge before darting in for the kill’.
He is best known for his problem-solving approach to learning
He was keen on ‘occupational’ learning and practical skills that produced independent, self-directing, autonomous adults.
He was refreshingly honest about their limitations and saw schools as only one means of learning, ‘and compared with other agencies, a relatively superficial means’.
Perhaps his most important contribution to education is his constant attempts to break down the traditional dualities in education between theory and practice, academic and vocational, public and private, individual and group. This mode of thinking, he thought, led education astray. The educational establishment, in his view, seemed determined to keep themselves, and their institutions, apart from the real world by holding on to abstract and often ill-defined definitions about the purpose of education.
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