“To Fully Understand What Others Are Saying”
16, 2011

Chez VH

“Love2learn Mom” is an alumna of the College, a wife, a mother of six (including a member of the Class of 2015), and — in her spare time — a blogger, chronicling her musings and the details of family life over at Chez VH. In a recent post, she had these insights about the blessings that the College’s use of the Socratic Method has been in her life:

I strongly believe in the concept of changing the world by changing one's own self. Our culture today, and our human nature in general I suppose, tends to focus on what the other guy is doing wrong. Any critique of myself or my favorite politician (or whatever) is viewed as an attack. I believe that we will never get anywhere good in politics until we hold ourselves and "our side" (whichever side that may be) accountable for our faults and stop making excuses.

I think this is related to part of what makes traditional liberal arts education (such as what my husband and I encountered at Thomas Aquinas College) so valuable — especially in an age where education is so often considered to be equated with a list of information stored in one's head.

In our round-table, seminar-style classes, we learned to take some else's ideas, make sure we understood them, formulate our own opinions about the material, articulate those opinions to others and thus lay them open to challenge and critique. We had to sort out the criticism as objectively as possible in a context that helped us not just respond emotionally to the fact that someone disagreed with us, but work our way through the questions and problems in a reasonably logical manner. The whole program helped us to develop skills that I find myself using on a daily basis in the real world — to fully understand what others are saying and respond in an appropriate, not a reactionary manner.