The Socratic Method – Critical Thinking Part 6

I think this is going to be it for Critical Thinking, for now at least. The Socratic Method, in the most basic sense, is about learning by asking questions. It is also about challenging facts, viewpoints, observations, and courses of action by asking many questions, often leading to better information, knowledge, and solutions. Here is an example of the Socratic Method:

“What color is this shirt?” “Black.”

“Does the tag say the shirt is black?” “No. The tag does not give a color.”

“How do you know the shirt is black?” “It looks black.”

“Have you compared it to an object that is factually black?” “No.”

“Could the shirt be Navy Blue instead of black?” “It could be. I have a navy blue tie I’ll compare it to.”

After comparing the shirt to the tie, the shirt was black… However, it really could have been navy blue because your brain will often simplify colors. The questioning above is irritating, and probably pointless in this case, but it leads to more factual information. The person being questioned settled on his or her answer because they really had a preconceived notion by looking at the shirt, and could have been wrong.

The Socratic Method is often used at the university level to teach rather than just throwing around information because people really learn the material when they are engaged by questioning. We always had written questions we had to answer and we would read through and evaluate our answers before turning them in, because they often caused lively debate among the students. People disagreed, had their own opinions, and debate would ensue. Debate is good because it takes into account many points of view.

Learning about the Socratic Method is a good idea, because challenging information and conclusions will lead to better business decisions. And we all know what good decisions lead to… more money. What do you think?

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