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What Does Socratic Mean?

What does it mean to be Socratic? You may be surprised. 

What if we told you it means to live with a burning sense of curiosity? To be delighted in learning new things? To happily express that you do not have all the answers? To shed the armor of being an expert?

Socrates once said: “I’m the wisest man in the world for I know one thing and that is that I know nothing.”

For us to become Socratic, we must shed the power plays of an authoritarian mindset of parenting – a stance that is demanding and believes that failure is bad and must be avoided, punished, hidden or shamed. 

When we move toward the Socratic mindset of curiosity, we begin to see how this changes how we relate to our children. We are less like carpenters carving them into the predetermined shape we want and more like gardeners, less concerned about controlling them and more focused on providing a rich environment for them to grow into whom they were meant to be. (A must read is Alison Glopnik’s book, “The Gardener and The Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children.”) 

Our Five Steps to Becoming More Socratic:

  1. COMMIT TO A PARENTING ADVENTURE – Get clear on your WHY as a parent… Better to be gardener but we all have a bit of carpenter inside. 

  2.  SET THE CONTRACT: Define your role and add structure (Give choices; Don’t answer questions; Growth Mindset praise instead of nagging which is passive aggressive.) 

  3. CREATE AN ATTRACTIVE GAME AND INVITE PLAYERS (or give them the choice to not play and be bored sitting on the sidelines watching others play.)


  5. UNPUSH YOUR OWN EMOTIONAL BUTTONS (we recommend reading “He,” “She,” “We,” “Shadow” and “Inner Work” books by Robert Johnson. 

Starting this school year, we will take each of these calls to action one at a time and dive more deeply into them.

For today, wrestle with yourself a bit. Where are you on the scale of curiosity and delight?  Are you willing to live with the ramifications of embracing both? Are you willing to let go of your fears of losing control? Are you willing to say, “I don’t know?” and decide what you want to do with your life? You are then free to dive deeply into a more Socratic – and free – existence.

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