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Teacher’s Role and Attitude During Socratic Conversations for Moral Education at High School

Patrīcija M. Keiša, Manuel J. Fernández González 
University of Latvia, Latvia 

Abstract. It is important to address moral education in the context of human freedom, authenticity, and self-inquiry. Following the developmental needs of adolescents and young adults, moral education at high school should provide a social environment to address authentic identity search and inquiry upon existential questions by facilitating reflection about students’ own life experiences together with peers. A conceptual model of Socratic conversation as a method for moral education in high school was elaborated by the authors. This research addresses the role and attitude of a teacher in the practical implementation of such model. To explore the opinions of educational actors, a Socratic conversation intervention (four high school students and a researcher-facilitator), expert interviews (a teacher and a youth psychotherapist) and focus group discussion (five young adults working with youth) were organized in spring 2022 in Latvia. The results point to the fact that, for leading Socratic conversations, teachers should act as facilitators who have a personal interest in the topic and method, and who simultaneously allow space for the students to form and express their own opinions before revealing the teacher’s own views in the discussion. This can be an even more demanding job than a traditional teacher’s role, requiring teachers to tolerate a higher degree of uncertainty. Thus, teachers need adequate support, which could include first experiencing a Socratic conversation as participants beforehand. This research provides a significant contribution for understanding teachers’ role during Socratic conversations with high school students, and points to ways of supporting teachers using this method to the benefit of both students and teachers.

Keywords: high school, moral education, Socratic conversation, teacher role, dialogical teaching, philosophical inquiry, pedagogy of freedom, existential questions

This research was funded by the Latvian Council of Science project “Effec­tive­ness research of an online curriculum for virtue education in Latvian educational institutions (from grades 1 to 12)”, project No. lzp-2021/1-0385.

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2022. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2022. Rakstu krājums
Riga, University of Latvia, 2022. 1135 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-18-911-1