Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Platonic vs Socratic Methods (was “. . . . Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool” )

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent discussion-list post
“Platonic vs Socratic Methods (was ‘. . . . Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool’ )” [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Joe Redish, in a PhysLrnR post wrote (paraphrasing): “. . . I tell my TA’s not to do Socratic dialogs, guiding the students through the answers as in the classic ‘Socratic dialog’ of Plato’s ‘Meno’. There Socrates shows a slave that he knows everything he needs to prove the Pythagorean theorem.”

But Joe’s so-called “classic ‘Socratic dialog’ ” of Plato’s Meno is actually “Platonic dialogue,” not the “Socratic Dialogue” of the “historical Socrates” as:
(1) researched by the late classics scholar Gregory Vlastos http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Vlastos;
(2) practiced by the late Arnold Arons, myself, and possibly a few others;
(3) exhaustively explained in a post “The Socratic Method of the Historical Socrates, Plato’s Socrates, and the Law School Socrates” [Hake (2007)].

IMHO, Joe would have done better to have written: “. . . I tell my TA’s not to do Platonic dialogs, guiding the students through the answers.” For almost two decades, ever since Robert Morse (1994) published “The Classic Method of Mrs. Socrates”. . . [Morse should have titled it “The Classic Method of Mrs. Plato”)]. . . Joe Redish has persisted in giving Socratic Dialogue a bad name by confusing it with Platonic Dialogue.

This pedagogical misconception is probably a factor in the nearly complete neglect of effective Socratic pedagogy by Physics Education Researchers.

To access the complete 17 kB post please click on http://bit.ly/y4l2Eh.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References which Recognize the Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)


“If Confucius can serve as the Patron Saint of Chinese education, let me propose Socrates as his equivalent in a Western educational context - a Socrates who is never content with the initial superficial response, but is always probing for finer distinctions, clearer examples, a more profound form of knowing. Our concept of knowledge has changed since classical times, but Socrates has provided us with a timeless educational goal - ever deeper understanding.”
-- Howard Gardner (1989)

REFERENCES [All URL's shortened by http://bit.ly/ and accessed on 10 Jan 2012.]
Gardner, H. 1989. “The Academic Community Must Not Shun the Debate Over How to Set National Educational Goals,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 8 November.

Hake, R.R. 2011. “Platonic vs Socratic Methods (was ‘. . . . Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool’ )” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at http://bit.ly/y4l2Eh. Post of 10 Jan 2012 10:59:16-0800 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to several discussion lists.

Morse, R.A. 1994. “The Classic Method of Mrs. Socrates,” Phys. Teach. 32(5): 276-277; online as a 287 kB pdf at http://bit.ly/iT1ksI, thanks to the University of Colorado PER group.

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