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Ways to optimize the Socratic teaching method.

  • Posted by Peter
  • February 8, 2015 10:05 PM EST
  • 2 comments
  • 1,785 views

The Socratic method is also called the midwife method (Someone on Linked In just taught me this). The teacher helps the student to deliver a thought.

Conversation is a very helpful form of improving student memory. It works best one on one. I just ask the student the question and let them answer.


The key is to make them think. The process of them struggling to come up with the answer helps them to learn it. I always wait at least 5 seconds before giving them a hint.


Churchill, "Nothing is so firmly fixed in our memory as that which we have blundered."


This dramatic pause is helping their brain to formulate retrieval cues for the information and attaching increased emotional importance to it which facilitates memory.


Then I just give them a hint. Often the hint will be a gesture like "up or down." The key is that I am trying to get them to generate the words.


When they say the words, it puts a copy of it in the "vocalization center" of their brain. When they hear themselves, they put a copy of it in the "hearing center" of their brains.


Now in the library of their minds, they have more copies of the material so that they will be able to find it more quickly when they need it.


Saying and hearing the material is a deeper level of processing than just reading it.
This builds confidence in the student which has multiple benefits. They are less stressed because they know they can do more than just recognize the material. They can generate it.


Lower stress levels improves performance on tests.
Confidence in one's academic abilities leads to optimism which leads to increased effort with future academic endeavors which leads to increased academic success.


Similar learning and teaching methods are described in the book, "Straight A at Stanford and on to Harvard." by Peter Rogers MD. 

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