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 Post subject: Re: Good Experience with Skills
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:25 am 
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Bordergirl wrote:
I looked at the site for the Socratic method but my eyes began to swim. I could not understand it at all. If someone could condense it for me and tell me in simple words what it is, I would appreciate that.


According to my understanding, it is a way of teaching by asking questions rather than providing answers (lecturing). Some questions may be more "leading" than open-ended ("Is the sky blue?" versus "What color is the sky?") but they allow the learner to reach conclusions on their own. It can be a bit challenging leading someone away from false conclusions but that can also be done by asking questions ("What color is the sky?" - "gray" - "Does everyone see the sky as gray?" - no - "What color might someone else call the color of the sky?" - blue - "Would more people say that the sky is gray or blue?" - blue - "Is there a chance that the sky is really blue even though it may appear gray at times?" - yes - "So, could we say that the color of the sky is most frequently called blue?" - yes - "For the sake of argument, can we say the sky is blue? - yes - etc.). That is sort of the Socratic method in a nutshell. Does that help at all?

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 Post subject: Re: Good Experience with Skills
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:34 am 
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Thanks Denim. I think it helps. I'm just not good at this stuff. I have to figure out what to say to my H in this instance. Any help would be appreciated!

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 Post subject: Re: Good Experience with Skills
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:06 am 
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I keep trying to write it out and I am long-winded. I know you know--I have seen you do it on this board.

The Socratic Method is basically just where you come up with a problem (step one) and then ask leading questions of the responder to get them to see your side of the issue (step two). You then test it out (step three) and if need be you can go back to step two and form new leading questions that pursuade the person you are trying to talk with to see your pov. Step 4 would just be to recognize the origional hypothesis was accurate by the results of the other steps. Step 5 is to put the decision into place.

Maybe 'leading' isn't the right word. Maybe 'thought-provoking' would be better. You want to get your partner to see that what you are proposing is rational. This line of inquiry is to ensure that the origional hypothesis was indeed correct. If at some point in the convo you see that the other side is more correct, adjust. Critical thought is key here.

I am hearing myself sound manipulative. I don't really believe it is manipulative. It is pursuasive. You (or anyone else) are trying to get someone else to understand your pov and act accordingly- or maybe allow you to act accordingly as the case may be. The point is to do this with logic and reason. Use questions that cannot be refuted logically. Answer all questions with reason. It is a pursuasive argument, not one that is meant to become heated or mean-spirited. Definitely not one that involves charater-assination or name-calling. Calm must prevail. Emotion MUST be left out.

Does this make sense? Does this help?

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 Post subject: Re: Good Experience with Skills
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:44 am 
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I think so Harmonium. As I said, I am not good with reading this kind of stuff. So I would have to think very hard about it. So what kinds of questions would I ask my H regarding him telling me to not talk?

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 Post subject: Re: Good Experience with Skills
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:02 am 
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I think Denim did a great job explaining it but that might be because I've already seen it in action and done it / worked with it myself in the past.

Here's an attempt to portray the Socratic Method in real-time using one of Harmonium's comments as a jumping-off point.

===========================================================

Me: What do you think makes it sound manipulative?

You: When we say "leading questions" it implies manipulation.

Me: Does that mean you think manipulation is bad?

You: Yes, I do - no one wants to be manipulated.

Me: I understand. Do you think people want to be lectured?

You: No, not at all!

Me: If you were given a choice between lectured at or led logically step-by-step to reach your own conclusions, which would you prefer?

You: I would prefer step-by-step, of course.

Me: So if I stood here and told you "Do this, then do that, then do the next thing" you would bristle at that?

You: You bet I would!

Me: Do you think that asking questions is a form of lecturing?

You: No, I don't.

Me: Why not? What makes them different?

You: Because lecturing is telling and questions are asking.

Me: If I'm asking you questions, where do the answers come from?

You: They come from me.

Me: And if I lecture you, where do the answers come from?

You: When you lecture, you're telling me what you think the answers are.

Me: So if I ask the questions that prompt you to give yourself the answers you think are best for your situation, that would be a better way to go than lecturing?

You: Absolutely!

Me: If asking questions to get you from Step One to Step Ten is a form of the Socratic Method, and if providing yourself with the answers you think are best for you is part of that question/answer (or Socratic Method) process, would you say or feel you've been manipulated?

You: No, because the answers came from me, about me and for me -- not from you. I got there myself.

Me: Since I asked the questions, was I the Guide, the Lecturer or the Manipulator?

You: You were the Guide because you pointed me in a direction but my answers also determined the path since your questions were based on my answers.

Me: Do you think that was a good thing? A positive experience?

You: Yes, because I feel like I accomplished something - I got there on my own, all those answers came from inside ME!

Me: We've just completed an exercise in the Socratic Method. Did this feel manipulative to you?

YOU (the reader of this thread) get to answer now! LOL

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 Post subject: Re: Good Experience with Skills
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:10 am 
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BG, there's no real "manual" for how to do the Socratic Method. Most of the time, you're flying by the seat of your pants. (Yep, in that grey area!)

Basically, I would say a couple things as advice:
  • Start with a basic WHY question.
  • Keep your eye on the goal -- what do I want this person to get out of this exercise? (Do I want them to agree the sky is blue? Do I want them to see how their behavior impacts others?)
  • Follow their lead as much as possible.
  • Don't stick to a script, you have to be flexible to show that you're really listening to and hearing their responses.
  • Use your basic journalism words when coming up with questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How

I hope that helps!

P.S. - for the first few attempts at using it, I would start small. This (don't speak) issue is very big for you so I wouldn't start with this one right off the bat. Maybe spend the next few days just asking more questions. "Why do you do think that?" where the answer from him gets a reply of "Okay, thanks" from you. Nothing further - just get in the habit of asking questions.

And here I am lecturing! Unfortunately, the internet discussion board isn't really conducive to the Socratic Method because we're not chatting in real-time. Sorry!

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 Post subject: Re: Good Experience with Skills
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:58 pm 
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Like I said above, you can ask open ended or more leading questions depending on your intent. With your husband you could ask "Why did you ask me to stop talking?" or you could ask "Did I say something wrong when you asked me to stop talking?" depending on how open you want to leave the question for him to answer and whether you are looking for an original answer or you are looking to confirm or negate your interpretation of his actions. As Ash suggested, you could leave it with the one question and give yourself some process time before asking another question. What you want to avoid is something like "Why does my talking embarrass you when my words were chosen carefully with safe company?" because that would be making an assumption and most likely put him on the defensive rather than providing answers to a harmless inquiry.

One of your follow up questions might be along the lines of "Have I said things in the past that led you to believe I might say the wrong thing again?" or "Have you noticed a change in the way I communicate now versus how I have communicated in the past?" in order to find out if he is responding to the specific incident or if he was biased by past incidents. This gives him the opportunity to think about his own response without immediately telling him how wrong he is because you have changed. Obviously the other part of asking questions is making sure you understand the answers before asking the next question or asking for clarification if necessary.

This is a method that is used often in "discovery learning" so my experience with it has to do more under the guise of teaching than conversation or even debate but you might think of it like a lawyer's tactic when questioning a witness. The lawyer can only ask questions but he chooses his questions carefully in order to get the answers he wants from his witness. He has to be careful to avoid "leading the witness" or breaking any other rules of order in the court but as long as he asks questions that allow his witness to give a complete testimony, the jury will understand the points he is making just by asking the right questions.

Does this help? I think the more you see it used and the more you practice using it yourself, the more valuable you will find this method.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Experience with Skills
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:42 pm 
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Thanks Ash and Denim - you have spelled it out perfectly! I will have to read and re-read the posts before I feel comfortable talking to my H. As you suggested Denim, I will not start with the "loaded" question in the beginning. I really appreciate your feedback!

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 Post subject: Re: Good Experience with Skills
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:52 pm 
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I just want to add my own thanks to Ash and Denim. I kinda understood the concept but I don't think I was able to articulate it or feel like it could be done without manipulation. I appreciate the very good and relavant responses to BG's post query. If I had only followed the thread to the next page, I probably would have kept my mouth shut, LOL. I get it better now, thanks!

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