The unexamined student is not worth teaching: preparation, the zone of proximal development, and the Socratic Model of Scaffolded Learning

Educational Philosophy and Theory 49 (14):1367-1380 (2017)
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‘Scaffolded learning’ describes a cluster of instructional techniques designed to move students from a novice position toward greater understanding, such that they become independent learners. Our Socratic Model of Scaffolded Learning includes two phases not normally included in discussions of scaffolded learning, the preparatory and problematizing phases. Our article will illuminate this blind spot by arguing that these crucial preliminary elements ought to be considered an integral part of a scaffolding model. If instructors are cognizant of the starting position of students, then students are more likely to develop a proper sense of autonomy. We turn, then, to examples from Socrates, the archetypal teacher, that cast light on the importance of preparation and problematizing for the student. Finally, we address the concern that integrating these preliminary elements into scaffolded learning would unnecessarily complicate a useful and effective pedagogical method. Ultimately, if it is effective and autonomous learners we wish to cultivate in the classroom, then something like SMSL must include preliminary elements that calibrate the instructor’s approach to the members of the class. After all, the unexamined student is not worth teaching.



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Joseph Ulatowski
University of Waikato

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Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
The socratic elenchus.Gregory Vlastos - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (11):711-714.
Plato's Meno.Dominic Scott - 2006 - Cambridge University Press.

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