Friday, March 25, 2005

The Socratic Classroom Under Fire

I have been hearing these rumblings for a few days now...thanks to Nick Burbules for this link. A measure in Florida aimed at "leftist" professors also includes wording that may be interpreted to allow students to sue if they are embarrassed by a professor who uses Socratic questioning.

Aside from the fact that this is a chilling reminder of what brought Socrates to trial in 399 BC, it is highly ironic, given that one of the "techniques" used by conservative and perennialist educators such as Mortimer Adler and his followers is, of course, the so-called "Socratic seminar." Not to mention the use of pseudo Socratic pedagogy in law schools, caricaturized for all time by Professor Kingsfield in the film Paper Chase. I wrote on these years ago, in a paper echoing Nietzsche's famous work, titled "The Use and Abuse of Socrates in Present-Day Teaching." I argued there that much of what passes for Socratic teaching is simply not true to Socrates's practice. However, Socrates DID raise hackles, and of course, that led to his trial.

Now this from Florida, the land of governors taking possession of women in vegetative states.

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