What Would Socrates Say?

In his essay What Would Socrates Say?

Peter W. Cookson Jr. explores the viability of combining technology and Socratic inquiry in the twenty-first century. Despite the benefits of using technology, the author contends that it runs the risk of impeding the learning process. The internet era makes it easier to acquire knowledge, but it does not address the need to retain that information. The paper argues that in order to encourage learning that is accomplished through the use of technology, the principles of Socrates' inquiry must be applied. Cookson Jr. suggests that those who advocate for the use of the internet in promoting enlightenment "assume that disorganized, radically democratized data lead to useful information and thus to real knowledge through some process of collective, randomized, constant connectivity" (9). I agree with the idea that Socrates' wisdom provides an important tool in the development of an efficient and intellectual environment.

Role of Technology

The influence of technology in 21st century enlightenment is pervasive. Most people use the Google and Skype to facilitate and sustain learning. Indeed, technology allows the quick collection of data and derivation of information. Additionally, it enables teachers and students to create curriculums and access a wider audience globally. Technology that is predicated on the principles set by Socrates' inquiry adds another dimension to the learning process. According to Cookson Jr., teachers would be able to learn alongside the students and thus facilitate the adaptation of the curriculum to the specific needs of the students (12). Technology can be used to further critical reflection, empirical reasoning, collective intelligence and metacognition (Cookson Jr. 12). Thus, technology presents an opportunity to inspire purposeful conversations among students globally. However, the success of the integration will depend on adherence to several premises. The premises allow the blending of the traditional linear culture of enlightenment to the digital culture and thus promote learning.

Reliance on Technology Stifles Inquiry

The detractors of technology use in promoting learning argue that it overlooks several elements of inquiry which might threaten the sustainability of learning in the future. Firstly, over-reliance on technology promotes misguided confidence in the learning process given that it avails bits of information which can be used to address immediate needs at the expense of critical reasoning. The fact that learning through technology is "fluid, fast and far more democratic" means that more people are using the internet databases impedes metacognition (Cookson Jr. 11). When individuals memorize rather than process information, they may be hindered from monitoring their learning processes. Lastly, reliance on technology may negate empirical reasoning in educational inquiries. The act may also promote individual rather than collective intelligence in the society.

Socrates' Inquiry and Technology in Providing Students with a Comprehensive Education

The two elements can work together to facilitate improved learning. The success of the initiative will depend on several factors. Firstly, there is need to overhaul the prevailing school system. Additionally, the development of responsive curriculums which blend classrooms, communities and online activities provides the next tool that can be used to promote comprehensive education. Stakeholders should also stop thinking of schools as buildings (Cookson Jr. 13). Education cannot be centralized in a single system given the current technological advancement. Such initiatives challenge the status quo and thus promote learning.


I agree with the author's association of Socrates' inquiry to the educational needs in the era of technology. It provides the most appropriate framework in the dissemination of educational knowledge. The outline is significant since it addresses the need for the transcending of learning initiatives in the 21st century. Subsequently, technology will be used to further knowledge by promoting global interactions among both students and teachers.

Work Cited

Cookson Jr., Peter W. “What Would Socrates Say?” Teaching for the 21st Century, no. 1, 2009, pp. 8-14.

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