IB students participated in a specialized learning dialogue called a Socratic Circle in Language & Literature class. The activity is based on the methods of Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher who believed “the answers to all human questions reside within us and that through disciplined conversation we can discover ultimate truth.” Seeking meaning within complex issues, students utilize a constructivist strategy, in which participants engage in a peer-to-peer conversation to collectively seek deeper understanding. Students listen actively, communicate positively, suspend judgment, explore diverse viewpoints, tolerate ambiguities, and expose their own underlying assumptions. They must approach someone who sees an issue differently not as an adversary to defeat in debate, but instead as a colleague in the common pursuit of broader perspective. They read “Nothingness,” a poem exploring the hypothetical concept of a total absence of language. Afterward, they reflected on how they interacted and on the ideas introduced. Although time-consuming and without “final” conclusions, it provides opportunities for learners to move away from recitation to discourse that highlights their own voices, and raises expectations for what they can achieve.
These are the primary objectives of the Socratic approach:
critical reading & thinking
discussion & listening skills
student ownership, voice, and empowerment
synthesis of curriculum knowledge and skills
foundation for curiosity & learning