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NPR Kicks Off 50 Great Teachers Series with Socrates

NPR Kickstarts 50 Great Teachers Series with Socrates

This morning NPR started a yearlong series called 50 Great Teachers, a series that looks at the 50 greatest teachers of all time. 

NPR starts the "celebration" with looking at the teachings of Socrates and how his methods are still used in classrooms today. Socrates' ideas, the article on NPR.org said, "helped form the foundation of Western philosophy and the scientific method of inquiry, and his question-and-dialogue-based teaching style lives on in many classrooms as the Socratic method."

The article's author, Eric Westervelt, went to Oakland Technical High School in California to "see it in action."

"It's the first period of the morning, and student Annelise Eeckman is sparring with teacher Maryann Wolfe about Social Security," the article said. "They get into the roller-coaster nature of the U.S. stock market and the question of what role the market should play, if any, in workers' retirement plans."

Eeckman and Wolfe debate back and forth and continue to ask each other questions. In this 12th-grade AP American Government class, the article said, "students are not just encouraged, they're expected to question the teacher — and each other."

"That's at the heart of the Socratic method that's come down to us from the streets of Athens: dialogue-based critical inquiry," the article said. "The goal here is to focus on the text, ideas and facts — not just opinions — and to dig deeper through discussion."

Wolfe, who according to the article started the school's Socratic seminar program, said the Socratic method "method means that you're going to have a whole bunch of ideas floating to the surface."

"I want them to see the complexity of the issues. I believe the students really learn that way," she said. "Because they have to speak, they have to be engaged in what we're trying to learn...Maybe we won't find exact truths in this class. But we will at least look at all possibilities, and they will have a truth right at that moment. And the moment comes when they have to stand up and debate it, when they have to write an essay about it. They have to take a side."

Read and listen to the full story

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor 

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