Blog Post: [Part 4] Dialogical and Dialectical Thinking

Richard Paul Archives
Sep 12, 2022 • 77d ago
[Part 4] Dialogical and Dialectical Thinking

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 3? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"color":"blue","link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"insert":"]\n \n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Socratic Questioning and Dialogical Discussion"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nDialogical discussion will naturally occur if teachers learn to stimulate student thinking through Socratic questioning. This consists in teachers wondering aloud about the meaning and truth of students’ responses to questions. The Socratic teacher models a reflective, analytic listener. One that actively pursues clarity of expression. One that actively looks for evidence and reasons. One that actively consider alternative points of view. One that actively tries to reconcile difference of viewpoints. One that actively tries to find out not just what people think but whether what they think is actually so.\n \nSocratic discussion allows students to develop and evaluate their thinking in comparison to that of other students. Since inevitably students respond to Socratic questions within their own points of view, the discussion inevitably becomes multi-dimensional.\n \nBy routinely raising root questions and root ideas in a classroom setting, multiple points of view get expressed, but in a context in which the seminal ideas, which must be mastered to master the content, are deeply considered and their interrelationships established. \n \nOver time, students learn from Socratic discussions a sense of intellectual discipline and thoroughness. They learn to appreciate the power of logic and logical thinking. They learn that all thoughts can be pursued in at least four directions:\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"1)"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Their origin:"},{"insert":" How did you come to think this? Can you remember the circumstances in which you formed this belief?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"2) Their support: "},{"insert":"Why do you believe this? Do you have any evidence for this? What are some of the reasons why people believe this? In believing this aren’t you assuming that such and so is true? Is that a sound assumption do you think?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"3) Their conflicts with other thoughts:"},{"insert":" Some people might object to your position by saying …. How would you answer them? What do you think of this contrasting view? How would you answer the objection that …? and,"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"4) Their implications and consequences:"},{"insert":" What are the practical consequences of believing this? What would we have to do to put it into action? What follows from the view that …? Wouldn’t we also have to believe that … in order to be consistent? Are you implying that …?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nBefore a Socratic discussion, teachers should pre-think the issues and connections that underlie the area or subject to be discussed. Whenever possible they should figure out in advance what the fundamental ideas are and how they relate to fundamental problems. For example, before leading a Socratic discussion on the question “What is history?”, teachers should pre-think the issue so that the yare clear about the essential insights that the Socratic discussion is to foster, for example, that history is selective (it is not possible to include all of the past in a book), that historians make value judgments about what to include and exclude, that history is written from a point of view, and that historians with different points of views often come to different historical judgments. Teachers should also recognize various related insights, for example, that all human thinking has a historical dimension (in that all our thinking is shaped by our life and times), that memory is a kind of internal historian, that the news is like the history of yesterday, that gossip is a form of historical thought, etc. This pre-thinking enables teachers to look for opportunities in discussion to help students to make connections and see the implications of their own thinking about history and things historical. Through Socratic discussion we do not teach students "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"our"},{"insert":" view of history, but the ingredients in all historical views, however they may be particularized.\n \nOf course, teachers must also follow up on the insights that are fostered through Socratic discussion. Hence, once a Socratic discussion has been held on the nature of history, students should be encouraged to raise questions about their history text. (What sorts of things would you guess were left out of this account of the battle? What point of view does the writer seem to have? Which of the sentences in this paragraph state facts? Which of the sentences interpret the facts or draw a conclusion from them? If you were a Native American do you think you would agree with this conclusion in your history text?...) Students should also have follow-up assignments which require them to further develop the insights being fostered. (For example, “I’d like each of you to imagine that you are one of the colonists loyal to the king and to write one paragraph in which you list your reasons why you think that armed revolution is not justified.”)\n \nNo matter how much pre-thinking has been done, however, actual Socratic discussion will proceed, not in a predictable or straightforward direction, but in a criss-crossing, back-and-forth movement. Because Socratic instructors continually encourage the students to explore how what they think about x relates to what they think about y and z, students’ thinking moves back and forth between their own basic ideas and those being presented by the other students, between their own ideas and those expressed in a book or story, between their own thinking and their own experience, between ideas within one domain and those in another, in short, between any of a variety of perspectives. This dialogical process will sometimes become dialectical when ideas clash or are inconsistent.\n"}]}

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