Thursday, February 21, 2013

Socratic Seminar – Promoting Critical Thinking in Mathematics



Socratic Seminar Promoting Critical Thinking in Mathematics

          Creative questioning – the way how Socrates (ancient Athenian philosopher; teacher of Plato and Xenophon (470-399 BC) be famous in his time. The process on how he ask questions and follow ups about certain objects has been used until this moment and preferably an effective way of motivating students to easily understand mathematics.

          Socratic Method, a way of teaching by question and answer; used by Socrates to elicit truths from his students is an essential teaching strategy in mathematics. The students had given chance of expressing their concepts and ideas about a certain n topic or issue (in mathematics) and continue the process by asking questions related to given statements. Teachers are not a demonstrator but a facilitator now. They just guide the process and ideas will never come from them. Students will move their seats to form a circle in class so that they can discuss the topic with each other face to face. This scene also promotes equality with one another.

          Here are some of the guidelines that must be followed by the participants to meet expectations on Socratic way. Effectively administering these standards will be observed if this will be discussed before the start of discussion.

·         Participants must respect on another’s’ opinion
·         Participants do not have to raise their hands to speak, but they must be corrupt
·         Participants address their fellow classmates by name (name cards can be placed on the desks, if necessary) and should take notes
·         Participant’s comments address the topic and do not digress
·         Participants settle points of disagreement among themselves. The teacher are not used as a source

Socratic Seminar for Mathematics by Karen Koellner – Clark, L. Lynn Stallings, Sue A. Hoover

          Socratic Seminar is definitely a thought provoking technique and it develops higher – order thinking skills (Lorin Anderson – student of Benjamin Bloom). It also negates traditional classroom set up where students are merely listeners in a patterned seats and all information will come from teachers. By this method those ideas of students are highly expressed, discussed and appreciated, no threat of discouragement. Those ideas which cannot be seen on a paper- and – pencil assessment will be concretely performed.

          Research have shown that students who actively participates in this kind of teaching strategy better understands mathematics lessons than those who are not. A lesson will be more fruitful if objectives are met by efforts coming from students. Critical thinking, for me is one of the best skills that we mathematics teachers must develop on students. It is how they will critically made decisions for their future. Be wise, Be Socratic.

Mr. Kristoffer Aron D. Putungan
Master of Science in Mathematics
University of Batangas