The S.O.O.S. Theory of Learning

As instructors we can be a Stepping stone or a Stumbling block or we can be an Opportunity or an Obstacle –to learning, understanding, and application — which one(s) are you?  Let’s take a dip into the past, (circa 470-399 B.C.E.) where intellectual stepping stones and opportunities abounded and are still relevant today. 

Socrates believed the best way to teach and to learn was through rigorous and disciplined questioning.  Certainly one good question is worth a thousand answers unless one’s educational world was and is shrouded in memorization, multiple choice, and  true and false. Students  learn best, not by being told what to believe or do, but by being guided (stepping stones and opportunities) through questioning to discover the various opportunities for discovering the truth as sound and logical.  Anyone should be able to recite a definition of democracy: “Government  by the people, for the people, and of the people.”  However, could you write a 15 minute essay on each one of these aspects of democracy as applied to contemporary society and its political implications?

We should function both as a teacher and a student.  We should model a disciplined form of inquiry to live a rational life.  We should challenge students to analyze and critique the status quo and institutions when they espouse unethical practices or when leaders attempt to argue with illogical, unsound, or otherwise unjustifiable opinions, perspectives, and alternative facts as dogmatic.  These are the leaders who give Socrates the option of leaving Athens or drinking Hemlock.

Socrates was accused by the leaders of Athens for  corrupting the youth, by fostering their intellectual development, and encouraging them to question the status quo. Socrates would certainly be proud of what a student (Hannah Hurrle) wrote as a final paragraph to a critical and creative assessment assignment:

“This was a great class, with a lot of inspiring discussion. I’m sorry to hear it won’t be offered anymore, because we’re at a time in history when the ability to think critically is needed more than ever. The propaganda coming out of Rupert Murdoch and recently deceased Roger Ailles media companies is sickening and has been damaging the minds of legions of gullible followers for decades now. It has reached a fever pitch of snarling red-faced hate directed at immigrants, feminism, inclusive multi-culturalism, intellectuals, liberals, sjws, traditional media, gun control activists, BLM, “round earth” truthers, globalism, atheists, Teen Vogue, trans citizens using the restroom they prefer to use, Democrats, elites, New York City, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Starbucks, Gay Disney characters, etc.

Not only has half our country been brainwashed to hate and spit on marginalized people, essentially kicking them when they are down, but there now exists a sort of “upside down” world of logic, where these marginalized people are being blamed for the hate itself, in the same way Hitler blamed the Jewish people of Germany for all of Germany’s problems.

It is scary to be graduating into this madness. It is scary to meet adults who lack the capacity to tell truth from lies, or have bought into the propaganda so much that they no longer believe anything to be true, and have become dangerously morally relativistic with the way they perceive the world. I will take what I have learned in this class and do my best to fight against the growing wave of mind numbing ignorance that has been slowly crushing this beloved country. Thank You for all that you have done to enable me to do this.”

Here is a framework for the S.O.O.S theory of learning according to Socrates:

What? —What is it that I know?

Reasons? —what are my reasons behind this idea? How do I know what I think I know?  What is the evidence? Is it credible? What is the point of view?

Assumptions? —what are the assumptions  underlying what I claim to know?

Inferences/Implications?— what inferences can be drawn from this statement? What are the implications? What difference does it make? What is its significance? Why do I think so? Who cares? Who said?

True?—Is it true? Why do I think so? What else do I need to know or understand before deciding if it is true or not?

Examples? —What would be a good example of this? How is this example connected with other ideas? Can I think of any examples of this in contemporary life?

Counter examples — Can I think of counter examples? Can this idea be reconciled with this counter-example? Are there any contradictions?

Socratic Seminar International—www.SocraticSeminars.com

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