Elenchus? | The Socjournal

Here at www.sociology.org / Athabasca University, we’ve always been pioneers. Decades ahead of the curve, we smashed the brick and mortar boundaries of traditional post-secondary ed, and pioneered distance education. We ( and when I say we I mean me), also started the very first online journal of Sociology way back when the Internet was nothing more than an online dust bowl and now we, and by we I mean a handful of interested scholars, are pioneering online pedagogy, in the interests of the student and not profit (as some of the initiatives in the U.S. seem to be doing). Our goal here isn’t to use technology as an excuse to corrupt education for personal enrichment, or to gut post-secondary education in the interests of conservative economic policy, but to use technology to enhance the educational experience, and bring it to a wider audience. If you like what we’re doing, jump on board.

WTF? What the heck is “elenchus.” Sounds suspiciously like something consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, but it’s not. Elenchus is the fancy-shmancy word for the Socratic method, which is just a slightly less fancy way of saying, educated discussion. On April 2, 2012 Wikipedia defined the Socratic method thusly:

The Socratic method (also known as method of elenchus, elenctic method, Socratic irony, or Socratic debate), named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas. It is a dialectical method, often involving an oppositional discussion in which the defense of one point of view is pitted against the defense of another; one participant may lead another to contradict him in some way, strengthening the inquirer’s own point.

It you ask me, elenchus is the core of academics. Elenchus is the ostensible point of scholarly publication in journals, where scholars put their ideas “to the test,” run them through “the mill,” or otherwise try and engage other scholars in debate. The result is that science “moves forward” towards ever greater understanding of the world. It doesn’t always work that way, of course, since scholarly publication is corrupted, biased, and favours the status quo, rather than original thought, but the idea is there anyway. Put your ideas out there and get people to try and refute them.

Besides being an important aspect of professional scholarly communication, elenchus is also the goal of The Soc journ. The idea is to get scholars from various disciplines to put their ideas “out there” so that they can engage with students, scholars, and teachers, in public Socratic debate. The benefits would be mutual. The public gets an education, the professor or initiate (PhD student, M.A. student), gets to hone their academic skills,  and ideas become stronger in the scholarly forge. This is an idea that, I have to say, isn’t often met within the boundaries of universities; but in the age of modern communication technology an opportunity presents itself to return to forms of scholarship and communication that emphasized public discussion, dialogue, and education. This isn’t the same as things like “Psychology Today” where scholars talk at the public. This is scholars engaging with the public, in Socratic debate, as public (nay global) educators,

The Socjourn is a pioneer in this area. We started with book sites where scholars can promote their ideas directly (http://goodscience.sociology.org/) , we’ve been practicing our Socratic dialogue, though currently embedded in the threaded commentary that follows our articles (see The Last Days of the Lilliputians and Socjourn Demystifies Sociology for examples), and now we’re ready to take the next step which is to create Elenchatic (sp?) forums for scholars wishing to do more than just hide inside the walls of their cherished academies. We’ll kick of the creation of our online educational amphitheater with a discussion of the book Good Science by Timothy McGettigan. Check it out and become a part of the future of higher education.

No related posts.