Socrates Cafe Fort Wort

Intelligent Discussion with Thoughtful Perspectives

Our Process

A life not well examined is not worth living – Socrates, 470 BCE to 399 BCE

The Socratic method of philosophy used in the class room is a teaching approach centered around a continuous dialogue between the teacher and students, rather than traditional lecture style instruction. The teacher poses a series of thoughtful, open-ended questions that challenge students’ beliefs, assumptions, and understanding of a topic. The goal isn’t to provide answers directly, but rather to guide students to uncover them through their own reasoning and critical thinking.

In our Socrates Café meetings, we use a method whereby the facilitator begins with an open-ended question. The members bring their questions to the meeting to vote on which question they will discuss, and leave the question open to further conversations among themselves until the meeting ends.

The most essential element in this our conversations is deep listening which requires focusing on the ideas being given and keeping an open mind. The second essential element is critical thinking, which is the ability to effectively analyze information. To think critically, one must be aware of that his or her biases and assumptions will become more objective in arriving at rational conclusions for themselves. This process is what we practice so that we may become more astute at deep listening and critical thinking.

Why does a Socrates Café have meetings? To have fun practicing our Socratic method with the practical result of applying same in our relationships, in the work place, in classrooms, and in all of our affairs. Situations arise nearly every day where we can practice deep listening and critical thinking skills.

For example, we may have a disagreement with our boss or co-worker or significant other. We can’t expect the other party to be familiar with critical thinking and deep listening skills. But we can implement the skills of deep listening and critical thinking toward the end of making rational choices for ourselves. Blaming others and getting mad can be viewed as crude manipulations that are counterproductive in arriving at a rational solution to a problem.

Another hypothetical example involves a young person who lives in Fort Worth and is thinking about joining the Marines. He or she comes to their mentor for advice. The mentor would use questions for the youth to come to their own conclusions. Questions like: What do you want to gain for this service? Are there any outside influences to do so or not to do so.? Is this part of
planning for your future? Have you discussed this with the people closest to you, or with the Marines? What is your goal in life? Do you think it will make you happy? Do you know that strenuous physical exercise is required?

Our Socrates Café method gives us an opportunity to learn and continuously improve our deep listening and critical thinking skills. Rather than blaming others, we come to realize that we are in control of our destiny. The result is a life worth living in a better world.