The Socratic Method for Humanities Classes
The overall purpose of a Covenant education is to train and teach our graduates to think critically and biblically at the highest academic levels and to express themselves – both in verbal and written forms – in a manner that is biblical, articulate, and persuasive.
The specific methodology for humanities in high school is the Socratic Method, deriving from Socrates’ famous question and answer dialogues. Rather than having students lectured to by a teacher positioned at the front of the classroom, the idea is to seat the teacher and students around a large table, which encourages interactivity and discourages passivity in the learning process. In a Socratic discussion, students discuss their points, thinking through the logical implications of their arguments and then articulating their thoughts. The Socratic Method emphasizes the mastery of certain skills rather than a mere memorization of facts and data. It is an intentional, guided process of directed dialogue that leads to a factual and faithful conclusion in which students must sometimes learn to agree to disagree graciously.
The Socratic Method has several benefits. First, it results in students not only learning more effectively, but also developing skills in speaking, co-operation, and personal interaction. Students learn to be skillful in writing and speaking, persuasively communicating with other students. This learning involves student planning, outlining, reviewing, peer-editing, questioning, rehearsing, etc., all with intensive teacher involvement at each stage of the process. Second, the Socratic Method strengthens the student-teacher relationship, allowing students to view themselves as partnering with their instructors in the pursuit of learning. Finally, Socratic dialogue leads to a more inquisitive and mature student body, whereby the students are given more responsibility for their own learning.