Sunday, July 31, 2011

Home Schooling - Sequential Thinking And The Socratic Method

Song:  New Horizons

Group:  The Moody Blues

It forms the core of all critical reasoning...
of being able to correctly judge a correct path
to problem resolution...and to life.

Sequential thinking, as a process, is most.

Spectrum Children, initially, have some problems with it.

Of course, were life really so simple...
there would be very few problems

(it actually is people who make life so complicated.
It all lies in the accurate gauging of the situation.
The proper variables to consider are often occluded
by unknown motives and subsequent actions of people).

However, when we talk of personal decisions
and straight forward situations...
it becomes far easier to render appropriate responses.


problems or opportunities/goals for which to solve or strive.

Actions or Inactions...

the paths to walk, or not walk...
to effect the outcome.


the logical result of the paths walked.

The Socratic Method...

the method of teaching by guiding the responses
through the narrowing of variables through questions.

By asking the right questions...
it keeps the students on a correct logical path
to problem resolution.

The great value of the Socratic Method lies in 
the intuitive way humans naturally think.

The basis for Sequential Thinking and the Socratic Method...
is Cause and Effect.

Cause and Effect is upon which science is based.

It is to which acquired intelligence boils down...
the correct use of variables 
(ever expanded through experience)
to solve problems efficiently and effectively.

Example of the Socratic Method in teaching:

(a condensed version of an actual conversation between
Alex, and I, after our blueberry picking, as I was 
using the Socratic Method in teaching during
Inferential Learning)

Concept Of Inferential Learning

Me:  Describe to me what you had seen yesterday at the Blueberry Farm.
If you were to walk out from an area undisturbed by man onto
the farm...what would you have noticed that broke the natural pattern?

Alex:  What do you mean? I saw a lot of blueberry bushes.

Me:  Did the plants grow naturally in that place?
 What patterns did you see?  
What seemed to have been placed there by man?

Alex:  They were planted in long rows.

Me:  What else did you notice that was man caused...
something done for a purpose?

Alex:  (Thinking in silence)

Me:  Why were the plants trimmed back?
What is the whole purpose of the plants?
What did they provide that the farmers want?

Alex:  Blueberries.

Me:  Why weren't they allowed to grow wild?
A plant has only so many resources and so much energy.
They would produce too much what and not enough of what?

Alex:  They would produce too many branches and not enough fruit.

Me:  Correct.  What else did you notice?
What things do plants need to live?

Alex:  Sunlight...Carbon Dioxide during Photosynthesis...

Me: (interrupting him)  What about when there is no sunlight?

Alex:  Oxygen

Me:  Good...without Photosynthesis plants respire Oxygen and 
give off Carbon Dioxide 
(overall small positive balance O2 - CO2 made into food for plants).
  What else does a plant need?

Alex:  Water

Me:  What is the chief function of water for the plant?

Alex:  (Thinking in silence)

Me:  Why is water considered a nearly universal solvent?

Alex:  Because many chemicals can be dissolved into it.

Me:  (I briefly went over Nitrogen and how it
may come from the atmosphere - conversion
by lightning to a form that can be readily dissolved in water 
(moisture in air to precipitation) and used by plants...
and by conversion by bacteria in the soil of organic
compounds to a form of Nitrogen used by plants
(also man made by chemists in the form of Ammonium Nitrate). he has not gone over the Nitrogen Cycle yet...
I opted to keep it simple as my focus was on the methods of the farmers
in getting water to the plants efficiently.  I also covered the need for 
other trace minerals for the plant).

Me:  So water dissolves necessary minerals for the plants.
What is one of the chief functions of water to a plant?

Alex:  It carries the minerals to it.

Me: transports what it needs.
 So, by what means did you see that they watered their plants?

Alex:  By big water sprinklers.

Me:  But there was no evidence of them using water sprinklers.
Why wouldn't you want to use sprinklers?  Is that an efficient means of 
water dispersal on set points?  What would happen to much of the water
were it allowed to rain down everywhere?  What would happen during the day?

Alex:  It would evaporate.

Me:  How could you water efficiently?

(I knew he knew nothing of Drip Irrigation...
but I wanted to lead him there in his mind)

Would you flood the whole area...knowing that too much 
water would kill the plants...and that water is expensive?

Alex:  No...just on the roots.

Me: could you do it efficiently?

Alex:  (Thinking in silence)

Me:  What do I use to water the roses in the backyard?

Alex:  A hose.

Me:  What were the black lines running the length of the furrows
next to the plants?

Alex:  Hoses.

Me:  How did they get the water on the plants?  
What do you have to do to a closed cylinder if you 
want the contents to come out at predetermined points?

Alex:  You have to make holes.

Me:  Yes.  Now how would you control the amount of water
coming from the holes at a set pressure?

(I decided to eliminate pressure as a variable to make it simple..
but I explained how it could be used).

Alex:  By the size of the holes and the number of them.

Me:  How else?  

Alex:  By how long you keep it on.

Me: control the total output by rate and time.

This led to a discussion on Drip Irrigation and on to Hydroponics.

 I generally teach new material by explaining concepts
and by then using the Socratic Method to have him
explain the concept in detail...
and, of how he thinks he could improve upon it or adapt 
the concept to new scenarios or problems. 

By using the Socratic Method to teach...
you not only keep the child in the intellectual loop...
engaging his brain and interest...
you are teaching a method for him to incorporate
in his thought process...
and to eventually teach his children.

He will start asking himself questions 
and begin guiding himself through the 
Sequential Thought process.

Far too often...
people are taught what to think...
instead of how to think.

By using the Socratic Method of thought...
which leads into correct Sequential Thinking...
a child learns how to properly structure his thought process...
which leads to correct conclusions.

Correct problem identification...
correct identification of variables to consider...
correct thought pattern...
leads to correct problem resolution.

In learning how to think...
children are given the true key to knowledge.

With critical thinking skills...
a light in the darkness of ignorance is forever lit...
never to be extinguished.

With this key...
the door to new horizons is opened...
never to close.


  1. You are a real-life Prof. Kingsfield. :)

    I am trying to use the Socratic Method more often with my son, though he still does not answer questions very often. My hope is that even though he does not respond, he is still internally processing the question and thinking about my answer (which I often eventually give when I realize that he won't respond).

  2. Yes, with repetition...Kai will start anticipating your questions and preparing responses. I just keep breaking down the questions until I get a response and use that as my starting point and build from there.


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