Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Socrates

From: Scott David Gray <>
Date: Tue Apr 5 11:43:07 2005

The Socratic Method? Do people actually think that this
showed any sincere respect for the 'student?'

The 'questions' are always carefully chosen leading
questions. Plato himself claims that it takes the *right*
question. And, in fact, the sorts of questions that come
from Socrates are very, very leading. And when he gets an
answer he dislikes he asks *more* leading questions -- and
often ignores counter-questions from the interrogatee. (Read
especially Xenophon on this -- he is not a sycophantic
follower of Socrates in the same way that Plato was.)

Read or re-read the Meno of you want a prime example of an
arrogant I-know-better-than-you attitude, expressed under
the guise of 'open questioning.' This is exactly what
Sudbury schools attempt to *avoid* by not wanting their
staff to cajole or coerce -- the impression that an adult
(or 'philosopher') can be above it all and that his/her
questions that are naturally 'apolitical.'

The Socratic method may be 'helpful' pedagogy -- but only in
the same way as any of the other forms of brain-washing
used in various places and times through history.

The Socratic Method, in practice, assumes that the person
asking the questions has a better handle on truth than
anybody else, and that leading questions are the means of
getting know-nothings to agree with you. Yes, I know that
Plato was *claiming* (despite his and Socrates' behavior)
that knowledge came from great immutable 'forms' that inform
all men at birth; but it's amazing that only
pseudo-intellectual drunkard men of leisure were seen as
capable of asking the 'right' questions. No wonder Plato's
Socrates was the darling of the Medieval church, and of so
many modern academicians.

In many ways, IMNSHO, Socrates (via Plato) was the father of
the modern pedagogical method. Which people on this list
know that I think is flawed.

On Tue, 5 Apr 2005, Marc Kivel wrote:

> In response to Scott Gray's comments on Socrates:
> The value of Socrates, from my perspective, is
> modelling the Socratic method which is a very helpful
> tool in pedagogic, and andragogic, practice. As for
> his personal life...any number of heroes have human
> flaws and one should not automatically discount the
> contributions because the contributor was less than
> admirable.
> As the saying goes, you peel the orange, throw away
> the rind (or better yet compost it!) and eat the fruit
> inside.
> Marc

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
The aim of a joke is not to degrade the human being but to
remind him that he is already degraded.
-- George Orwell
Received on Tue Apr 05 2005 - 11:04:37 EDT

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