I’ve got a big man crush on an ancient Greek.
(When I teach communications, I always emphasise the importance of an opening line, and I think that’s one of the most fun I’ve ever managed!)
The chap in question is Socrates, and I love him because of his great wisdom in the world of teaching and training.
To illustrate - what are the most boring courses or lectures you’ve ever been to?
For me, it’s when the presenter just stands there and waffles, waffles, waffles, and then waffles some more.
There’s no interaction with the audience, no reason to engage, no change of pace, and you quickly drift off into a vain hope that this ordeal is going to pass as quickly as possible.
However! There is another way, and this is where Socrates was so wise.
Moments like this - interactions. For entertainment, but also education.
This one came when I was teaching blog writing for the excellent Cambridge Network this week.
To start with, a critical point, I used a classic Socratic trick.
I asked the group to put their hands up if they wanted to know the secrets of writing brilliant blogs with the investment of just a few hours of their time.
Happily, everyone did, and it immediately broke the ice, and got the session going.
Then, I introduced myself, and straight away another change of pace…
I asked the group what was the average modern attention span in this busy world.
We had a few guesses, and then I gave them the answer (you'll have to come on a course if you want to know - call that a not very subtle piece of marketing.)
The reason for the question is that the first area we went into was titles, and the importance of grabbing the attention immediately, as online is such a frenetic and crowded environment.
It’s not strictly Socratic, in that he was a proponent of asking questions of a group, or audience, in order for them to find their way to an answer.
But it certainly does make for more entertaining and engaging education.
Look at this; when I was outlining the principles of photography for blogs, and offered the group the opportunity to take a photo of yours truly against this very appropriate backdrop.
Taking pictures is always a highlight of a session, but this one was particular fun with me photographing them photographing me.
I’m pleased to say the feedback from the course was very good, and I made some friends who I hope I will see again, and also have the opportunity of reading their blogs.
Thanks to everyone who came along, and also a big thank you to Socrates for guiding us along the way to true teaching.