There’s a method of instruction in the education world called “Socratic Discussion.” What some don’t know is an authentic Socratic discussion has nothing to do with good discussion techniques. Instead, it’s more like being grilled by someone.

This doesn’t mean the one grilling has feelings of superiority over their student or even a set answer they’re trying to lead the student to find (though it will feel that way to the student). Instead, it’s more an attempt to instill a mindset which will serve the student well as they continue their studies, and the probing is often a necessary part of bringing this mindset about.

Socrates was despised in Athens because he made the aristocratic elite feel like they didn’t know much (through his simple, but hard, questions). But Socrates wasn’t concerned with making people feel small; he wanted his students to realize who and what they were. Only then could they realize how little they knew, and be ready to gain true knowledge rather than settle for shadows of it.

Solomon, like Socrates, thinks humility is the mindset we need in order to thrive as humans. In Proverbs, Solomon writes, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (1:7) and “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD… it will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (3:7).

If we have the humility to realize who and what we are in the face of God Almighty, we will want to learn from him. We will let God’s admonishments roll off our backs only if we feel we know a lot, and if we don’t truly realize who God is. Solomon wants us to know God is the best teacher we can learn from, but knowing our place in relationship to him comes before gaining any kind of true knowledge.

Ashley Carr
High School Teacher

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