Sample Socratic Dialogue
Teacher (T): This is a course in Biology. What kind of a subject is that? What do you know about Biology already? Kathleen, what do you know about it?

Kathleen: It’s a science.

T: And what’s a science?

Kathleen: Me? A science is very exact. They do experiments and measure things and test things.

T: Right, and what other sciences are there besides Biology? Marisa, could you name some?

Marisa: Sure, there’s Chemistry and Physics.

T: What else?

Blake: There’s Botany and Math?

T: Math...math is a little different from the others, isn’t it? How is math different from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Botany? Blake, what would you say?

Blake: You don’t do experiments in math.

T: And why not?

Blake: I guess cause numbers are different.

T: Yes, studying numbers and other mathematical things is different from studying chemicals or laws in the physical world or living things and so forth. You might ask your math teacher about why numbers are different or do some reading about that, but let’s focus our attention here on what are called the life sciences. Why are Biology and Botany called life sciences?

Peter: Because they both study living things.

T: How are they different? How is Biology different from Botany? Jennifer, what do you think?

Jennifer: I don’t know.

T: Well, let’s all of us look up the words in our dictionaries and see what is said about them.
(Students look up the words.)

T: Jennifer, what did you find for Biology?

Jennifer: It says: "The science that deals with the origin, history, physical characteristics, life processes, habits, etc . . . of plants and animals: It includes Botany and Zoology."

T: So what do we know about the relationship of Botany to Biology? Rick?

Rick: Botany is just a part of Biology.

T: Right, and what can we tell about Biology from just looking at its etymology. What does it literally mean? If you break the word into two parts "bio" and "logy"....