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Re: Should a Socratic Dialogue be attempted?

by syphilis (Canon)
on Oct 21, 2007 at 12:20 UTC ( #646256=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Should a Socratic Dialogue be attempted?

Are we doing them more harm than good by giving them the answers they ask for?

I don't presume to know what is good for people - I've not been trained as a High School teacher :-)
Consequently I usually just (try to) answer the question. I guess a more altruistic person might stop to consider the excellent points raised in apl's post, but I'm not an altruist - nor am I qualified to be one.

Replying to posts is (generally speaking), for me, an act of self-indulgence. It's all about solving a puzzle that *I* find interesting, or showing off something that *I've* picked up somewhere along the way ... or maybe it's something *I'm* doing as a learning exercise or as an exercise in clear thinking. It's all good and fine if the OP derives some benefit from my reply - but that's generally a secondary concern.

I also find it particularly annoying when I get a "teacher reply" to questions that I've asked. In fact, I usually interpret such responses as smug, smartarse "I'm better than you cos I know something you don't" responses. Thankfully, I (usually) manage to conceal my displeasure :-)

By some strange coincidence, I happened to read this article by Maryann Wolf in Saturday's (Melbourne) Herald Sun newspaper. I rarely read that paper - which makes it an even stranger coincidence. (The article is not related specifically to this discussion, but it also refers to Socrates and it's along similar lines to apl's post.)

Cheers,
Rob


Comment on Re: Should a Socratic Dialogue be attempted?
Re^2: Should a Socratic Dialogue be attempted?
by apl (Monsignor) on Oct 21, 2007 at 14:30 UTC
    I don't presume to know what is good for people - I've not been trained as a High School teacher :-)

    ROFL! Most teachers I know wouldn't presume to know what's better for people. Politicians, OTOH ... 8-)

    That's another good point. People coming here with questions are (by definition) seeking answers. Some may be interested in learning, but first they want the damn thing to work!

    Replying to posts is (generally speaking), for me, an act of self-indulgence.

    That's interesting. A lot of people I read answers from may be like that -- they have speciailized knowledge others don't, and reading their answers is itself a form of education. I come here to learn, because my skills are more ground-level. You make me realize that some people post precisely for people like me.

    I also find it particularly annoying when I get a "teacher reply" to questions that I've asked. In fact, I usually interpret such responses as smug, smartarse "I'm better than you cos I know something you don't" responses.

    Another reason to principly provide answers. This forum is a great resource, and it'd be a crime to drive away someone who could really need it.

    By some strange coincidence, I happened to read this article by Maryann Wolf in Saturday's (Melbourne) Herald Sun newspaper.

    The teacher in my life got a hoot from the article. She said the researcher in the artticle didn't get into the classroom much. It's not a question of "Might it be true students don't learn" to "How many don't learn."

    In the U.S., with the No Child Left Behind Act, schools now teach how to pass the test. They no longer teach the material the test would have been on.

      That's interesting. A lot of people I read answers from may be like that -- they have speciailized knowledge others don't, and reading their answers is itself a form of education. I come here to learn, because my skills are more ground-level. You make me realize that some people post precisely for people like me.

      The general assumption is that QA forums (usenet groups, mailing lists, web forums, etc) provide a service for people who have questions that require answers. My view is that the *real* value of these forums, in fact, is that they provide a service for people who like to *answer* questions (for whatever reason).

      Well ... that might be taking it a little too far. Let's just say that "it works both ways" ...

      I *do* know that I've learnt much more from answering questions, than I have from asking questions :-)

      Cheers,
      Rob
        Indeed. As nobull is often quoted over on c.l.p.misc:
        Get real! This is a discussion group, not a helpdesk. You post something -- we discuss its implications. If the discussion happens to answer a question you've asked, that's incidental. If you post a question that implies that you've got a problem finding answers to trivial questions in the manual, then it is perfectly reasonable for us to discuss how to do that.
        It's quite clear in my mind that much of the value in a site like Perlmonks isn't in getting an answer. It's in getting people thinking about how to solve the problem. At first glance, those might look like the same thing, but they really differ quite a bit. It's nice that the person asking gets help, but it'd be selfish to count on such a large resource to give up at one answer. The very broad array of ways in which programmers can solve problems lends naturally to discussion, and that's where deeper learning happens.

        We should especially be accustomed to TMTOWTDI in the Perl community, and discussion of options rather than a simple answer or a guided thought exercise seems the natural route to me.

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