Through an almost magical process born of asking questions and listening, the Socratic Method helps you discover your inborn ability to create, think and solve problems.
The Socratic Method is an approach to learning and thinking that draws out knowledge from inside of us using questions. First mentioned by Plato in the Socratic Dialogues (4th century B.C.E.), at heart the method involves a conversation between two people: the questioner/listener and the speaker.
Something almost magical happens when someone asks us a question and then truly listens to our reply. Like the proverbial key to a chest filled with incredible riches, questions seem to unlock our brains, help us make connections, invent new ideas, see an issue from different perspectives, and discover solutions to problems that we never knew we knew!
Because such knowledge comes from within us, not from the outside world, it is truly “ours.” By this I mean it quickly becomes part of our conscious knowledge; it is not something that we have to “stuff in” to our brains or cram for in order to learn.
The Greeks used the Socratic Method to explore philosophical questions revolving around ethics and morals. In modern times, many law schools have adopted it as a way of teaching students to think like a lawyer.
Both of these uses can be quite confrontational, however, because they usually involve the defense of one point of view against another. They also assume that the questioner is an “expert” whose goal is to lead the speaker to a particular point of view or understanding using a series of carefully chosen questions.
In contrast to this application, people in the Creativity and Accelerated Learning movements have begun to apply the method in a different way with remarkable success for learning, creativity and problem solving.
In particular, Win Wenger, author of The Einstein Factor: A Proven New Method for Increasing Your Intelligence
, has invented a myriad of techniques with which to develop this method. They revolve around open-ended explorations that do not require the speaker to come to a “right” answer. And the only expertise required from the Questioner is the ability to listen well, ask questions, and encourage responses.
In the process of using these techniques, people have discovered that when someone asks them questions about an issue that is meaningful to them—and then truly listens to their detailed answers for an extended period of time—it enables them to draw from within themselves their own creative “genius.”
In fact, Win believes strongly that it is this method that enabled the genius within the peoples of ancient Greece and the Renaissance to flourish. He writes that:
Such miracle leaps of understanding, learning, and personal growth occurred that its practitioners became convinced that all knowledge and understanding are already within each learner and need merely be drawn forth.
Part of the reason for this, he explains, is that whenever you describe your perceptions aloud in detail to another person it stimulates more and more perceptions in ever greater depth. This not only reinforces those perceptions, but also the overall trait of being aware. Win believes strongly that:
Genius is already there in nearly everyone if given its chance to express and emerge. It’s there in your own awarenesses, not in someone else’s second-hand, rote-memorized data.
To experiment with one Socratic Method technique, go to: