The Socratic Method was first used in law schools at Harvard, starting the 19th c., and is now employed in most major law schools around the world.
- strict classical approach to eliminating false philosophical presuppositions by exposing logical errors in thinking
- utilizing the simple question and answer method in order to cultivate critical thinking in a broad variety of areas
The approach is used to “developing higher order thinking, conflict-resolution skills, and conceptual applications.”
Kemp provides some tips on how to develop this critical thinking in our everyday life:
THE SOCRATIC METHOD FOR THINKING
- Locate a statement confidently described as common sense.
- Imagine for a moment that, despite the confidence of the person proposing it, the statement is false. Search for situations or contexts where the statement would not be true.
- If an exception if found, the definition must be false or at least imprecise.
- The initial statement must be nuanced to take the exception into account.
- If one subsequently finds exceptions to the improved statements, the process should be repeated. The truth, in so far as a human being is able to attain such a thing, lies in a statement which it seems impossible to disprove. It is by finding out what something is not that one comes closest to understanding what it is.
- The product of thought is, whatever Aristophanes insinuated, superior to the product of intuition.
www.allaboulawschool.com discusses the Soctratic Method using interviews and experiences of real students.
Archibald MacLeish spoke of his experience at Harvard Law,
The Socratic spark which set insatiable fires where no flame was seen before…
Beyond the spark was a vision – the vision of the human mind, the great tradition of intellectual past which knows the bearings of the future.
The Trial of the Socratic Method features students from Harvard Law
Of course, using cases to critically analyze and discuss concepts of law is probably the best preparation of all. Within weeks we intend to start posting cases and anticipate your contribution.