Socratic discussions are a cornerstone of the Acton Academy experience, challenging learners to take the lead in their own hero’s journey. There is no better way than to engage in discussions around real world and moral dilemmas.
In Socratic discussions, we ask two basic questions –
· We ask learners to make a choice. Ex - Would you rather be able to make your own decisions or be bossed around by an adult?
· We ask for clearer definition on ideas orevidence. Ex – What do you mean by ____?
Often in life, and in traditional schools, young people try to give adults the “right answer” to the question being asked. Real heroes like Winston Churchill would not have achieved success in this manner. Leaders and heroes must apply critical thinking, collaboration, active listening and decision making with confidence in pursuit of changing the world for the better. Our Socratic discussion questions and dilemmas giving Eagles practice with this type of critical thinking.
Socratic discussion is a part of each morning launch and each afternoon to launch quests. You can also practice this framework at home to unlock the great potential in your children. As a family, we are using the Socratic structure to challenge our three children to work through dilemmas and decide on appropriate action. We prompt with questions to dig deeper and provide evidence in making an A or B decision, or we ask for potential next steps and the positives and challenges in taking each potential action. Once you break down the barrier of a strong emotional reaction, the genius of young people to make decisions and build character comes through.
Here are three tips to make the Socratic experiences, at home or at Acton, a success:
1. Consider Rules of Engagement as a way to clarify roles, purpose and the great potential in the experience. At Acton Academy Palm Harbor, we begin with these Rules Of Engagement and we will have our Eagles adapt them as we grow:
- Be on time and prepared.
- Listen intently.
- Take a stand.
- Build on previous comments.
- Be concise.
- Provide evidence and examples.
2. Remember that excellent discussion builds the knowledge and perspective of all parties involved. Seek understanding and don’t be afraid to change your mind when presented with evidence. This is also a result of thoughtful, analytical and precise listening.
3. Remember that we are all on a hero’s journey. Take time to delight in the experience and engagement between young people and more experienced heroes. After all, the experience only adds to the value to the journey.