Socratic Teaching: a critical assessment

Journal of Moral Education 23 (2):119-134 (1994)
Abstract
This paper scrutinises “Socratic teaching”, with special attention to the alleged desirability of the purposes that typically animate it, the probable effectiveness of the strategy that is supposed to help the Socratic teacher to realise these purposes and the ethical status of this strategy. The account offered of Socratic teaching highlights the teacher's effort to guide the student from complacently held but not yet adequately examined opinion to a state of humility and perplexity, in the belief that this will contribute to the student's development. This is to be accomplished through a process of questioning, or cross-examination, through which the student is brought to recognise that his or her belief-system is riddled with inconsistencies. Critical examination of various empirical and moral assumptions that typically enter into this approach to teaching leads to an articulation of some of its limits and to an interpretation of the kinds of situations in which a Socratic approach to teaching can be responsibly and effectively used
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