Do you have any common rules or recommendations how students should engage in a Socratic discussion in history?
Thank you for the question! I am copying a page out of our book, The Socratic Discussion in History, which is a manual and DVD curriculum for teachers and students how to engage in the Socratic Discussion in history. Beyond this list of rules is the premise that truth does exist, and that all are called to search for the truth in history. Historical analysis is not merely just the individual perspective of the student or the teacher, it is a systematic academic exercise with the aim of finding the correct answer.
Rules for a Socratic Discussion in History
1. Each participant has tried their best in researching for the discussion. If no research work has been done, the student cannot participate.
2. The goal of each student is to search for the truth, not “win” the discussion.
3. When others talk, all students will be respectfully silent.
4. To signal the teacher that you want to talk, the student will raise his hand and wait for the teacher to call on him.
5. If a student wants to talk, the teacher will recognize him.
6. In making an assertion, the student will attempt to use historical evidence as support.
7. Unless noted otherwise, students may use notes during the discussion.
8. Students are encouraged to acknowledge good arguments of their peers.
9. The student will make every possible effort to participate in the discussion.
10. If something happens in the discussion that the student thinks should not have, it is up to the student to tell the teacher, either during the discussion or after class.
1. In our Mission and Method statement, we write, "The Classical Historian is inspired by the best that is offered in the Great Tradition of Western Education: honesty, virtue, patience, and logical analysis of evidence and conclusions."
This is our world perspective as historians. All people should strive to live for these values.
2. There is no such thing as “Christian History, or Jewish History, or for that matter, Atheist History” unless it is a study of a particular religion or pagan movement during a particular time period. There are, however, perspectives that an author brings to his writing. History is something that occurred regardless of one's faith.
3. We (the De Gree family) are Christians dedicated to living our faith through works, and when needed, words. As a historian, our beliefs are reflected in how we study the past and in how we treat our students and others. We hold the tradition of the Western Experience (Judeo-Christianity, Greco-Roman) to be superior to any other, because it encourages the freest and best expression of the individual human spirit, mind, and will. However, we think that believers and non believers both deserve access to the best, most open, education.
Thank you very much for your question!
I am filled with gratitude on this day, when America's soldiers led the greatest invasion ever in the history of mankind. And like so many of our battles and wars, we led an invasion to liberate, not conquer. We freed Europe from the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and the fascists. Immediately after the war, we defended Western Europe from the totalitarian governments of the Communist countries.
We are all humbled by those who gave their lives so others can be free, and we remember that freedom is not free. May we always be vigilant so our government and people are free.
Why I am against the Common Core Standards
You hand Johnny his packed lunch, give him a kiss, and smile as you see him run off to school. Once in the classroom, his teacher tells him that today is the big day to take the state test for Common Core. Johnny sits down in front of a computer and avails himself to the “four parallel streams of affective sensors.” A “facial expression camera” detects emotion, capturing facial expressions. The “posture analysis seat” analyzes the mood of Johnny based on how he sits. The “pressure mouse” analyzes how Johnny uses the computer mouse, and the “wireless skin conductance sensor” (a wide, black bracelet) collects “physiological response data from a biofeedback apparatus that measures blood volume, pulse, and galvanic skin response to examine student frustration." This information from Johnny will be collected every year, from k-12 education, on into college, and into the workforce. It is all part of the State Longtitudinal Database System (SLDS) that states are adopting to be in compliance with the Common Core Standards.
Why am I against Common Core Data Mining? I went into teaching because of my love of children and my joy of being a part of igniting the spark of intellectual curiosity in young students. My father who had taught middle school history for 15 years always told me, “The most important element of education is the teacher in the classroom.” Building the relationship between the teacher and student and establishing trust, respect, and admiration between the two creates an environment conducive to learning for the young person. The Common Core Standards is a national policy designed to manage the entire nation’s population, treats individuals as cogs, and destroys what little remains of a positive educational environment. Sadly, it is just another depressing governmental, top-down program dictated to teachers and families. Horrifyingly, it will use modern technology to make decisions for the masses, and thus destroy the diversity and individuality of education and our country.
On Common Core tests, along with answering question about academics, students will provide “Personally Identifiable Information.” And, sensitive information will be extracted, as well, such as:
1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent;
2. Mental and psychological problems of the student or the student's family;
3. Sex behavior or attitudes;
4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior;
5. Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
6. Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student's parent; or
8. Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).
This information will then be managed by inBloom, Inc., a private organization funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is preposterous to imagine any family wanting a private organization to collect and use private information over the childhood and young adulthood of family members.
There are many reasons why I do not like the Common Core Standards, but the strongest one involves data mining. Using technology to make education more efficient and commercial scares me because it treats individual students like data and it is open to corruption and abuse.
Most of my information about Common Core testing I used to write this came from Diane Rufino's article. Her information is listed below. She referenced the other sites.
Heritage Foundation Conference (panel discussion) on Common Core: "Putting the Brakes on Common Core" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=P40GaKlIwb8 (Panelists included Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation, Jim Stergios of Pioneer Institute, Ted Rebarber of Accountability Works, Heather Crossin of Hoosiers Against Common Core, and Christel Swasey. Michele Malkin was a guest speaker)
Bob Luebke, "Common Core Will Impose an Unproven One-Size-Fits-All Curriculum on North Carolina," Civitas Institute, March 18, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.nccivitas.org/2013/common-core-imposes-one-size-fits-all-curriculum/
Bob Luebke, "Common Core: Worse Than You Think," Civitas Institute, April 11, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.nccivitas.org/2013/common-core-worse-than-you-think/
Dean Kalahar, "Common Core: Nationalized State-Run Education," American Thinker, April 12, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/04/common_core_nationalized_state-run_education.html
Mallory Sauer, "Data Mining Students Through Common Core, New American, April 25, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/education/item/15213-data-mining-students-through-common-core
Rachel Alexander, "Common Core Curriculum: A Look Behind the Curtain of Hidden Language," Christian Post, April 18, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.christianpost.com/news/common-core-cirriculum-a-look-behind-the-curtain-of-hidden-language-92070/
Rufino, Diane, “For Love of God and Country,” http://www.beaufortobserver.net/Articles-NEWS-and-COMMENTARY-c-2013-05-13-266807.112112-COMMON-CORE-Common-Core-or-Rotten-to-the-Core-You-Decide.html
Data Mining, on the Glen Beck Show - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NjqOBEc3HU
Valerie Strauss, " A Tough Critique of Common Core on Early Childhood Education," The Washington Post, January 29, 2013. Referenced at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/29/a-tough-critique-of-common-core-on-early-childhood-education/
Reality Check: The Truth About Common Core - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdiCGgxj58
The Problem With Prehistory
The study of prehistory poses many problems for the historian. Prehistory is the study of humans in the past before writing. By definition, any knowledge we have of humans, before writing, is speculative. Historians, trained mainly how to interpret written records, try to piece together with various scientists, what happened. Man’s certainty of prehistoric events will always remain hazy, because of this lack of an eyewitness written account. The historian’s ability to determine what happened in prehistory is limited.
The Scientific Problems of Knowing The Origin of Life and the Origin of the World
One issue that will forever cause wondrous imagination and thanksgiving, and also confusion and frustration, is the question of origin of life. The written word was not available at the beginning of life, so we cannot look to historians for our answer. Scientists, such as paleontologists, geneticists, biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and so on, have tried to discover the origin of life, using scientific methods. However, these scientists all face a similar dilemma, in determining the origin of life.
According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is "knowledge attained through study or practice," or "knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world." The scientific method uses observation and experimentation to gain knowledge.
To know something for certain in science requires humans to experiment, observe, document their observations, and to have others do the same. When scientists conduct experiments, trying to discover the origin of life, they need to “take a leap of faith” and base their experiments and findings on what they believe to have been the circumstances at the time of the origin of life, based on the latest scientific findings. Based on the definition of science, scientists cannot know exactly what the origin of life was. This issue lies outside of science. The scientist’s ability to determine what happened in prehistory is limited.
Robert Badillo, professor of metaphysics at St. John’s University, writes, “The issue of biogenesis or the origin of life is a complex question that has not been resolved from a purely materialist perspective. There is no scientific demonstration for concluding that life comes from or derives from non-life. This is to say that there is no evidence for saying that the pre-biotic world is exclusively responsible for the generation of the biotic one. Traditionally, for the genesis of life, one needs, in addition to matter, a vital principle, also termed the soul, an immaterial principle that organizes matter into life forms. The issue of the origin of life is still an open question.”
When scientists cannot know exactly what happened, they base their ideas of nature on what appears, scientifically, to be the most plausible theory. Then, when many scientists agree with this idea, it is often falsely reported as fact. For example, very often, the theories of evolution are reported as fact, when they are in reality theories.
There is a tendency for readers to assume that scientists, when they agree, have established a fact. And, there are scientists who want you to believe, that if many scientists agree on something, it is factual. For example, if you see the sentence begin with the following, “Most scientists think….”, this does not mean that what follows is fact. It means only that at this time, most scientists think something. Consensus among most scientists does not mean that a fact has been established. It means that, at this moment of time, most scientists think this. It does not mean that it is true.
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world. As its name suggests, it belongs, at least partially, outside of the physical world. Whereas the scientific world today bases its knowledge almost solely on what is measurable, or quantifiable, metaphysicians base their ideas on things that are not only experimental, such as experience, thoughts, logic, emotions and ideas. The metaphysician attempts to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world.
The study of prehistory can only be understood better with the aid of metaphysics. The study of the origin of the world, of the origin of life, is a metaphysical question. It lies outside the realm of the purely physical, since it touches on themes that cannot be fully expressed by the physical sciences. The study of Science and history are limited and will not ever be able to explain the origin of life and of the world.
In the ancient times, metaphysics was seen as “the Queen of Sciences,” as the Greek philosopher Aristotle called it. When Greek scientists made a discovery of something, they were more interested in how the discovery affected the understanding of who man was and what life meant, than in the discovery itself. These are questions that are not easily answered.
With the Scientific Revolution, and later the Enlightenment, European philosophers began to over rely on science and reason to answer all of man’s problems. The study of metaphysics waned. However, science and reason has its limitations, as we see when trying to understand prehistory.
Evolution and Belief in God
Theories about the origin of life and of the world are metaphysical questions. They lie beyond the realm of the study of history and of empirical sciences such as paleontology, genetics, biology, anthropology, archaeology, and so on. There is no way man can prove, scientifically, exactly how life began and the origin of man. The scientist takes a leap of faith to “prove” what exactly happened in prehistory.
This is not to say, however, that we should not try to understand how life began. But, humans should do so in a humble manner, acknowledging our limitations in order to completely understand something that is beyond the merely physical world, and something that happened before our existence on Earth.
The belief in God is a metaphysical notion, existing also outside the realm of the natural world. God the Creator cannot be fully comprehended by man, because of our limitations, and because He is supernatural. God cannot be proven or disproven completely by the sciences or by historians, because his being and powers ultimately lie outside of these human realms of understanding the world. The interpretation of the Bible as it pertains to prehistory is challenging. Theologians differ on the exact meaning, and historians are not able to use all of it as a precise history, when using the tools of the historian.
Much of higher academia today is governed by those who are without faith in God. What’s more, they believe that man is capable of understanding fully the world in which he lives in. Or, they believe that one day, humans will be able to explain completely the origin of life through science. There is much wrong with this idea.
In writing “What’s So Great About Christianity,” author Dinesh D’souza discusses evolution and Darwinism. He writes, “Evolution is a scientific theory. Darwinism is a metaphysical stance and a political ideology.” D’souza argues that evolution as a scientific theory has many problems, but even if it is true, it shows merely the mode that God designed. Darwinism, however, is an unscientific, metaphysical theory, that seeks to reject God and replace him with a materialistic view of the world and of life. It does not have as its basis scientific evidence.
The study of prehistory is wrought with more problems than answers. Man attempts to use what is available to him to discover what happened, but in the end, he needs to approach the study of prehistory with humility. Over the last few hundred years, many scientists have come to believe that humans are capable of fully understanding and explaining completely the natural world, including the origin of life and the beginning of the world, without a supernatural power. These scientists take a leap of faith, filling in missing evidence where the scientific evidence can’t fill in the answers.
All history texts Take a Stand! books use show the influence religion plays in shaping history and the authors wrote them in the Judeo-Christian tradition. This means, that the books were written by Christians who were writing as historians, not as theologians.
In the establishment of cultural, legal, social, and religious norms of western man, attention is paid to the ancient Hebrews, Judaism and Christianity, and the establishment of organized Christian religions. When the student studies the Arab civilizations after the middle of the seventh century, importance is placed on the religion of Islam. When the student studies medieval Asian civilizations, attention is placed on the influence of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, and Taoism. In cases where there are civilizations where all religions exist, such as modern United States, the student studies the role these religions play in shaping American history. When the religion plays a role world wide, such as Christianity in Medieval Japan, students are asked to evaluate this role.
As historians do, Take a Stand! students learn and evaluate the role religion has played in shaping the history of people. The books we recommend do not proselytize, that is, they do not actively engage in converting someone to a particular faith or away from a particular faith. On the other hand, the books we recommend highly value the role faith and religion have played in the history of mankind, and religion is given a position of honor among the influences in history.
Because the Take a Stand! books are guides HOW to study and analyze history, the parent is encouraged to choose any source or sources they want their children to read from. We recommend that the older the student, the more primary sources are used, and the more varied sources are used. The older student should be able to analyze a secular as well as a religious text, and be able to state his opinion on both of them in a logical and persuasive manner.
Teaching with the Take a Stand! series helps me get to know my children and students better and it helps them how to think critically, form historical judgement, and express themselves in speech and in writing.