The Socratic Dialogue
Conversation is an essential element of an SMS education. It is often called the Socratic Method or Socratic Dialogue after the Greek philosopher Socrates who taught a small group of students by asking them questions and engaging them in conversation. As embodied at SMS, a group of 8-10 students sits around a table with a teacher who poses a question to initiate the conversation about an assigned text. In the ensuing discussion students propose arguments, rebut and defend them until, through vigorous discussion and critical argumentation they discern, first, the meaning of the text and, ultimately, its veracity or error.
The Socratic method demands that students come to class well prepared. Students are obliged to prepare their arguments in advance and be ready to answer the questions, objections and counter-arguments of their peers. Socratic Dialogue thus makes SMS students active participants in their own education and sharpens their powers of reason, analysis and articulation – fundamental skills necessary for success in any career or profession.