Socratic Method Research Portal

MISSION STATEMENT
and
Free Education Resources

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Maxwell is an education methods developer with experience developing new methods of teaching into commercial products that have been used in public schools throughout the US and internationally. He is currently focused on developing education perspectives, methods and tools in service to the public good that will be given away for free over the internet.

A SOCRATIC PERSPECTIVE ON THE MISSION TO EDUCATE
Socrates believed that the most important aspect of human living is a successful journey of self improvement. His perspective on self improvement focused heavily on the acquisition of knowledge. The great choice for humanity at this time is: Shall we choose to create ourselves or to destroy ourselves? Will we seek to travel the path of increasing knowledge and cooperation in service to solving our problems and thrive as a species, or do we continue as we are by allowing fear and ignorance to dominate so much of our living in the destructiveness that comes with the lack of understanding?

Socrates believed that improvements in our ability to acquire knowledge were so essential to the welfare of humanity that they should be available to all. Even though he had a reputation as a teacher worth getting to know, he never made it his mission to make a living off of his contribution to education. He never refused to participate in someone's quest for knowledge because they lacked the ability to pay. In our time this is more important than ever.

Innovations in education that have any chance of improving people's ability to learn should be given away for free as much as is possible. This is necessary to the survival and thriving of our species. The wide adoption of effective education methods and tools is much more important to the prosperity of humanity than is the cultivation of business structures that operate with the typical corporate mentality of giving as little as possible while taking as much as possible. We cannot afford to completely subjugate improvements in the cultivation of human understanding to the priorities of business profits.

The survival of our various civilizations demands that we become the best learners, gain the finest understanding, and cultivate the greatest wisdom that is possible for us to bring forth. This means we need to create free access to improvements in education methods that are able to be distributed as efficiently as possible. The internet is perfect for this mission.

MISSION STATEMENT:
The Socratic Method Research Portal is dedicated to advancing the use of the Socratic Method and the human quest for knowledge.  All perspectives, methods and resources developed for this purpose will be given to the public at no cost. To support efforts to give away free education resources, some secondary software tools designed as a non-essential, but very useful, practice benefit will be sold at very low cost to help raise money to further research and development. Resources that are essential to the learning involved with the online courses will all be free. There will also a couple of dedicated fund-raiser products.

FREE EDUCATION RESOURCES
(Some projects still in development)

HOW TO USE THE SOCRATIC METHOD
A series of essays designed to provide a clear explanation of the principles that must underlie any Socratic philosophy of education and to teach the systematic use of the Socratic Method. Two introductory essays are currently posted. An essay on the philosophy of education, "The Fundamentals of Education: A Socratic perspective on the cultivation of humanity" is currently in work.

PROJECT MATHEMA:
This project's goal is to develop methods and tools that will empower even persons with below average aptitude in mathematics to develop a superior ability in two areas of focus.

The first area is basic calculation. The methods and tools will focus on giving people an effective pathway to the development of skills in rapid and accurate calculation using their minds, as opposed to dependence on calculators. There is a philosophy in some of academia that we should lean on computer based calculators as much as possible. I find this to be a weakness to the extent that we are very capable of developing our own minds to do much more. A superior ability to do basic calculation also makes learning the rest of mathematics easier.

Project Mathema's second area of focus is algebra. The failure to learn algebra is a great stumbling block in mathematics education. If Algebra is not mastered, access to success in the rest of mathematics studies is limited or destroyed. The goal of this second area of focus is to make it possible to teach algebra to younger students, with much greater success than is currently possible. They must not only pass tests, but develop the long term ability to use algebra in their thinking and problem solving. In this second area of focus, it is also deemed absolutely necessary to make such success in algebra possible for students of below average mathematical aptitude.

MUSIC THEORY ADVANTAGE™:
There are two methods released with this project, which have been tested down to seven years of age. The first is an effective mental musical interval calculator. As I developed math and music courses for use in public schools, I noticed that the frequency ranges of musical intervals (as measured in semitones) have the exact structure of natural numbers. This observation led to the insight that music students should be able to learn to spell intervals as easily as math students learn to count. This method works by simply memorizing a seven note interval structure and learning a few simple rules. Then you can name the note that is any interval above or below any given note. With this method, being able to spell a series of intervals as easily as you can count single digit numbers is the expected norm. For the first time, all music students can easily master interval spelling even at the beginning of their music studies.

The second method is the scales portion of the course, which is designed to make it very easy to memorize musical key signatures. This means you will know what notes are sharp or flat in every musical key. This knowledge is what you need to be able to spell the diatonic scales for all the musical keys. This method works by remembering a series of easy to learn images that decode into the number of sharps or flats. This is an extremely easy method to teach the spelling of the major and natural minor scales for all the musical keys.

Both methods are designed to facilitate the rapid development and superior long term retention of important skills in handling basic music theory facts.

Software will be developed for the practice of the methods presented in this music course. This software is not needed to master the content, but will be a plus to use.

TEACHING THE PIANO
A new philosophy and method for teaching Piano are in development. It has in common with the Music Theory Advantage™ the idea that skills normally relegated to more advanced students should be developed in the first year of study.

This style of teaching:

  • Develops specific sight reading skills in the first three to six months of piano study that is normally not achieved until after years of study. This refers to being able to instantly know and be able to finger the correct key for any note on the staff be able to sight read simple melodies and chords with superior skill. It does not refer to the higher level of sight reading more complex music that must be accompanied by more advanced playing technique.
  • Does a better job teaching the notes on the grand staff without, ironically, ever teaching the notes on the grand staff. Students realize they know the notes of the grand staff after the fact.
  • Develops improvisational skills and musical creativity immediately.

Due to a very heavy production schedule, I may just write up an outline of these piano methods (as opposed to producing fully developed curriculum) in order to let people start experimenting sooner.

FUTURE OFFERINGS:
The Socratic Method Research Portal will be offering a full series of essays on the use of the Socratic Method, Socratic exercises and projects that can be implemented in classrooms or in private homes, new work on Project Mathema, music theory and piano and more.

Page updated on 11-13-2012

Copyright © 2012 Kenneth J. Maxwell Jr.