Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Socrates

From: Marc Kivel <>
Date: Tue Apr 5 12:22:00 2005

Well, Scott, a few comments.

I would agree that Socratic method does lead folks to
solutions already defined by the questioner.
However, that does not make the pre-defined, if not
disclosed, solution wrong de facto, even if you object
to the manipulation. Manipulation is after all the
purpose of rhetoric. And I do think that rhetoric has
its place in human relationships.

To be a purist is a noble aspiration, but who is
greater, the purist who stands by the man in the ditch
and points out the man's plight, or jumps in the ditch
and helps the man find a way out?

I also agree that "sincere respect" for a student is
not how any sage regards their disciples in any
learning tradition, East or West. That is reserved
for one's peers. Rather, a sage loves her or his
disciples and can say, as in the Mishnah, "Much have I
learned from my teachers; more from my peers, but most
from my disciples!"

And while I accord my fellow learners (notice I don't
refer to them as students) equality of voice and
respect for being themselves, I do not assume that
their 14 years of life experience is automatically
equivalent to my 48 years. I ask, assess where they
are on their own path, and respond to their questions
based on what I know at this time or raise issues and
ideas of my own for their reflection and response. I
consider what is said and done and respond by my

The sincere respect you seek can be seen alive and
well in yeshivot around the world today, where talmid
chochamim go at one another hammer and tong over the
meaning of a text. But I would ask if the sturm und
drang of intellectual gladiators is the best or only
way of learning that meets all needs or is most noble
or pure?

With regards,

Received on Tue Apr 05 2005 - 12:21:11 EDT

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