Teaching Philosophy

Volume 25, Issue 4, December 2002

Peter Boghossian
Pages 345-359

The Socratic Method (or, Having a Right to Get Stoned)

This paper argues that without the appropriate educational and organizational context, Socratic pedagogy can undermine a teacher’s leadership and negatively impact classroom dynamics by exposing a teacher’s lack of knowledge. In arguing for this position, the paper articulates the nature of the Socratic method, clarifies the notion of “power” and “leadership,” and then discusses traditional power roles in the classroom. These traditional power roles are strongly contrasted against the notion of power in the Socratic method, where the Socratic teacher derives their power by asking questions. Finally, provided the educational and organizational context are structured in a way that puts the teacher in the role of the Socratic questioner, instructors need not worry that their leadership is in jeopardy or that classroom dynamics will suffer.