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Topic: [math-learn] Platonic vs Socratic Methods (was ". . . . Physicists Seek To
Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool" )

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Richard Hake

Posts: 1,251
From: Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Registered: 12/4/04
[math-learn] Platonic vs Socratic Methods (was ". . . . Physicists Seek To
Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool" )

Posted: Jan 10, 2012 5:01 PM
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Some subscribers to Math-Learn might be interested in a recent
discussion-list post "Platonic vs Socratic Methods (was '. . . .
Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool')" [Hake
(2012)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Joe Redish, in a PhysLrnR post wrote (paraphrasing): ". .
. I tell my TA's not to do Socratic dialogs, guiding the students
through the answers as in the classic 'Socratic dialog' of Plato's
'Meno'. There Socrates shows a slave that he knows everything he
needs to prove the Pythagorean theorem."

But Joe's so-called "classic 'Socratic dialog'" of Plato's Meno is
actually "Platonic dialogue" not the "Socratic Dialogue" of the
"historical Socrates" as (1) researched by the late classics scholar
Gregory Vlastos <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Vlastos>; (2)
practiced by the late Arnold Arons, myself, and possibly a few
others; (3) exhaustively explained in a post "The Socratic Method of
the Historical Socrates, Plato's Socrates, and the Law School
Socrates" [Hake (2007)].

IMHO, Joe would have done better to have written: ". . . I tell my
TA's not to do *Platonic* dialogs, guiding the students through the
answers." For almost two decades, ever since Robert Morse (1994)
published "The Classic Method of Mrs. Socrates". . . [Morse should
haven titled it "The Classic Method of Mrs. Plato")]. . . Joe Redish
has persisted in giving Socratic Dialogue a bad name by confusing it
with Platonic Dialogue.

This pedagogical misconception is probably a factor in the nearly
complete neglect of effective Socratic pedagogy by Physics Education

To access the complete 17 kB post please click on <http://bit.ly/y4l2Eh>.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References which Recognize the
Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)

"If Confucius can serve as the Patron Saint of Chinese education, let
me propose Socrates as his equivalent in a Western educational
context - a Socrates who is never content with the initial
superficial response, but is always probing for finer distinctions,
clearer examples, a more profound form of knowing. Our concept of
knowledge has changed since classical times, but Socrates has
provided us with a timeless educational goal - ever deeper
Howard Gardner (1989)

REFERENCES [All URL's shortened by <http://bit.ly/> and accessed on
10 Jan 2012.]
Gardner, H. 1989. "The Academic Community Must Not Shun the Debate
Over How to Set National Educational Goals," The Chronicle of Higher
Education, 8 November.

Hake, R.R. 2011. "Platonic vs Socratic Methods (was ". . . .
Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool" ) online on the
OPEN! AERA-L archives at <http://bit.ly/y4l2Eh>. Post of 10 Jan 2012
10:59:16-0800 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the
complete post are being transmitted to several discussion lists and
are also on my blog "Hake'sEdStuff" at <http://bit.ly/wXfWse> with a
provision for comments.

Morse, R.A. 1994. "The Classic Method of Mrs. Socrates," Phys. Teach.
32(5): 276-277; online as a 287 kB pdf at <http://bit.ly/iT1ksI>,
thanks to the University of Colorado PER group.

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