Discussion Problems?

Try a snag-free Socratic small group session

One characteristic of a small group that is struggling is that there is little or no discussion. Sometimes this occurs when a group is very small, or is comprised of people who have varied knowledge levels and/or methods of learning. I have witnessed small group leaders try to remedy this situation by developing questions for the group to answer in order to foster discussion. I have observed this working to only further limit discussions as one of two responses normally occur. First, small group participants begin to feel they are being "quizzed" and don't respond for fear of answering a question incorrectly. Or second, one person begins to dominate all discussion as they "know the answers" and the remaining participants become completely quiet. The small group I am a part of has experienced these struggles, and has come up with a method that fosters good discussion even with the quietest and newest of small group members. This method is called by English scholars as the Socratic Seminar.

Socratic Discussion: Named for Socrates (ca. 470-399 B. C.), the early Greek philosopher/teacher, a Socratic approach to teaching is based on the practice of disciplined, rigorously thoughtful dialogue. The instructor professes ignorance of the topic under discussion in order to elicit engaged dialogue with students.

A Socratic Seminar is a method that can be used for discussing the Bible or a devotional book. This method promotes participation of all members of the group and eliminates academic-only groups in which the leader teaches and questions group members. This method also keeps the attention span of all participating group members, works with auditory and kinesthetic learners and works well on a large groups as well as small groups. ...

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