Do you remember the last time you had a debate with someone? Did the experience reveal different perspectives to you that you previously weren’t aware of? Did you enjoy the exchange of ideas and opinions? Did the debate end up making you more curious about the topic?
If yes, then you might have unknowingly engaged in a Socratic dialogue. This method of engaging in intellectual dialogue involves asking thought-provoking questions. The individual doesn’t just pass down their opinion as the only correct one but instead encourages everyone to participate and make their own opinions about the subject.
Several areas in life require this kind of critical and impartial debate and dialogue. This blog sheds light on the same and discusses some real-life applications of the Socratic Method.
Socratic method examples to understand it better
The Socratic Method enables the person to see various sides and perspectives and understand how there is no one “correct” answer. This mind-expanding way of thinking and conversing can also be employed in daily life. Some examples of the same include:
1. Moral Dilemmas
Nothing we come across in life is really black and white. From forming an opinion to making a crucial decision, we try our best to be right. Much like the dilemma of turning Robinhood to the authorities for being a robber or celebrating him for helping the poor, there are still instances in life where no matter what path we choose, some or the other moral value has the potential of getting hurt in the way. When faced with difficult situations like these, critical analysis becomes a really important task.
The Socratic method helps in critically analyzing moral dilemmas. To make peace with the non-binary nature of life and what’s right and wrong in a particular context, we need to constantly question ourselves and those around us.
2. Problem Solving
Whenever we are faced with a problem in life, our goal is to solve it as effectively as possible. By employing the Socratic Method, we question every solution we come up with. This helps find and work out all the loopholes and makes the solution as foolproof and airtight as possible.
This technique of problem-solving can also be professionally employed in coming up with quick-on-the-feet marketing or even defense plans.
When people employ the Socrates method while thinking about themselves, it helps them in gaining insight into their own behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.
This critical self-awareness, or self-reflection, is useful and leads to growth and learning. Therapists employ this technique to help enhance clients’ understanding of themselves.
While verbal and non-verbal communication might have its own upsides and drawbacks, nonetheless, communicating is a lot more than just speaking and hearing. To engage in a fruitful conversation, we need to invest just as much, if not more, time and energy in listening as we do in talking. This is why giving as much regard, and importance to what others have to say as people do to their own opinions becomes an important skill taught by the Socratic Method.
The more the individual employs the Socratic Method and asks inquisitive questions, the better and clearer the understanding. Brainstorming meetings in professional settings or just a casual discussion among friends require the individuals to be respectful of each other’s ideas and opinions and yet ask questions that urge them to think.
5. Agree or disagree
Given there is no absolute right or wrong in life, learning to agree to disagree becomes imperative. The Socratic Method inherently teaches that there can be a variety of perspectives and solutions. It gives you the capacity to appreciate multiplicity and diversity.
Knowing different perspectives that you might not currently agree with can also be useful in situations where your current perspective isn’t helping.
6. Decision making
Since people who employ the Socratic Method in daily life are appraised with different opinions and perspectives on a situation, when it comes to making a crucial decision, they use this information to their advantage. They evaluate all the possible decisions and their consequences and question them several times to make sure they will be effective before landing on one.
Policymakers might employ this technique to come to the most effective distribution of resources.
7. Questioning the reliability
Before we decide to implement a practice in our daily life or believe some piece of information to be true, we question its reliability and the source it came from. We look for empirical evidence and see whether it proves or contradicts the information.
This practice of questioning is professionally employed by individuals involved in investigative and/or journalistic work, whose job is to find the facts and reveal the truth.
8. Facilitates discussion
From classrooms to dinner tables, spirited discussions happen everywhere. The Socratic method helps in asking poignant and thought-provoking questions that can lead to invigorating discussions.
These discussions could expand everyone’s knowledge and perspectives and lead to spending quality time together where everyone has fun and learns something new.
9. Personal growth
When we are comfortable with our views and whatever is happening around us, we don’t seek any new information. On the other hand, when we question things, it leads us to seek out more information from various sources and learn more about the topic.
Gathering information can also take the form of seeking feedback from others, something that can help in better understanding our areas of improvement.
10. In-depth insight
Repeatedly questioning a topic and taking varying perspectives on it is how people develop deep knowledge about a topic. Scholars, academics, and experts engage in this while working on developing learning about the nuances of a topic.
Teachings of the Socratic method
Employing the Socratic Method in real life has several benefits. This kind of dialogue fosters skills essential for intellectual growth and learning.
Some of the key benefits of employing the Socratic Method include the following:
One of the key tenets of the Socratic Method is that there is no one right answer. The whole concept is built around the idea of understanding and appreciating the diversity of perspectives.
When an individual learns to respect and celebrate these differences in views and opinions that enrich the discussion, the space and our minds become much more welcoming and inclusive for everyone involved.
2. Critical thinking
The Socratic Method encourages questioning everything and everyone. This also includes questioning one’s own beliefs and values. When using this method, people are encouraged to think about the meaning and reason behind their actions. While also taking divergent perspectives into account, individuals end up developing critical thinking skills where their instinct becomes to find the logic behind everything. The same can be boosted amongst adults and kids through some fun games, books, etc.
3. On your feet thinking
Socratic dialogue involves questioning, which prevents the individual from getting complacent. By keeping your mind active and engaged in critical thought, you build your capacity and ability to come up with quick but thoughtful replies and solutions.
Being able to weigh different options and perspectives and come up with the most effective alternative is a vital skill nurtured and developed by employing the Socratic Method.
The Socratic Method is a unique way of engaging in conversations and discussions that encourages novel and critical thinking. When employed in real life, it can aid in several areas, including but limited to effective problem-solving and immense self-growth.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,