Grades 3 - 8  -  Socratic Discussions


The students read many different kinds of texts.  Most of the readings are short, generally no more than a page or two. 

In the lower grades many of the readings are folk tales from around the world.  However, whether the text is a folk tale, an excerpt from an essay, a historyical work, or a political document it is always about one or more common human ideas or common human experiences. 

For instance, here are a few of the questions that we discuss during the year:

What does a judge do?

Is there some reason why parents should be in charge of the family rather than the children? If so, what is the reason?

What is a lie?

Are all untrue statements lies?
Is being curious a good thing or a bad thing? Sometimes good and sometimes bad? If the latter, how do we know when t is good and when it is not good?

Is there beauty in math?

What is nationalism? is it good? If so, why? If not, why not?

Is it true that children will be unhappy if they get everything they want? If so, why? If not, why not?

Will adults be unhappy of they get everything they want? Does it depend upon what they want?

If a person breaks an unjust law is he obligated
 to suffer a penalty for it?  Why or why not?

Is writing greater than speech? Or is the reverse the case?

What is slavery?  Are there degrees of slavery - can one be more or less of a slave than is another person?

Are some things better explained to others by means of words while other things are better explained in some other way? Can you explain
something without words?

Is it always a bad thing to get angry? Sometimes good and sometimes bad? How can we know?

What causes friendship?

 Venice: A Regatta on the Grand Canal - Canaletto


As the students progress into the higher grades there are more readings that are excerpts of great works about ancient history, civics, and the humanities.  As an example, 8th grade students may read an excerpt from The Republic, by Plato; an excerpt of The Prince by Machiavelli; or a section of Augustine's Confessions.  

The readings are posted at an assignments page that the students have access to. Included with the readings are questions for the students to reflect upon and perhaps discuss with family prior to the classes.



"My son is involved in the Socratic Discussion.  The group he is involved in is the 3rd grade group.  It has helped him to be more confident and secure in expressing his thoughts about things.  He would always look to us after making a comment on something and say "Am I right?"  Now he makes a statement about something and has more confidence in his answers and ability to think for himself. This new ability for him has lead us into some very interesting conversations, whereas before he would just listen and not express any thoughts on the subject. I would recommend it for anyone, child as well as adult. . . . "



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