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  • Aki Margaritis

Realizing the Drawbacks of Incorporating Socratic Discussion in Montessori Middle School.

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Socratic discussion is a method of teaching and learning that is based on the ideas and methods of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. It is a student-centered approach that encourages critical thinking and active learning. However, while Socratic discussion can be a powerful tool for teaching and learning, it also has its drawbacks.


One of the main disadvantages of using Socratic discussion is that it can be time-consuming. The dialogue-based approach requires a significant investment of time, both for the teacher and the students. Teachers need to prepare questions and prompts in advance, and students need to be willing to engage in the discussion and think critically about the topic. This can be a challenge for some students, particularly those who are shy or lack confidence in their abilities.


Another disadvantage of Socratic discussion is that it can be difficult to manage the class. In a Socratic discussion, the teacher acts as a facilitator rather than a traditional lecturer, and the students are responsible for driving the conversation. This can lead to a lack of structure and organization, which can be difficult for some students to follow. Additionally, if not managed properly, the discussion may steer off-topic or become unproductive.


Socratic discussion can also be difficult for students who are not prepared or who lack the necessary background knowledge. The discussion relies on students' ability to think critically and to engage in conversation, which can be challenging for those who are not familiar with the topic or who lack critical thinking skills. This can lead to frustration and disengagement among some students.


In addition, Socratic discussion may not be suitable for all subjects or topics. It is most used in humanities and social sciences, but it can be difficult to apply to subjects such as mathematics or science. This is because these subjects rely heavily on facts and formulas, rather than on critical thinking and discussion.

Furthermore, the Socratic method can be intimidating for some students, who may feel pressured to speak up and share their ideas. This could lead to an atmosphere where students feel uncomfortable expressing their opinions, which is not conducive to learning. Some students may also feel that they are being judged by their peers, which can create feelings of self-doubt and insecurity.


Socratic discussion can also be difficult to adapt to online and distance learning environments. The discussion-based approach relies on face-to-face interaction and the ability to read nonverbal cues, which can be challenging in an online setting. Additionally, it can be difficult to manage the discussion and keep students engaged in an online environment.


In conclusion, while Socratic discussion can be a powerful tool for teaching and learning, it also has its drawbacks. It can be time-consuming, difficult to manage, and may not be suitable for all subjects or topics. Additionally, it may not be effective for all students, particularly those who are unprepared, lack background knowledge, or feel intimidated. It is important for teachers to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using Socratic discussion before implementing it in their classrooms and be aware of the potential challenges that may arise.


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