Are We Good? Ancient Greek Philosophy and Socrates

7 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT find will use CLOSE and other reading strategies to determine what philosophical quotes might mean.

Big Idea

We put students context clues and connecting to the test in this lesson. Students will use famous Greek philosophical quotes to make predictions for what they mean.

Socrates: CLOSE reading

10 minutes

To begin the lesson, students will be practicing their annotation and note taking strategies on an article about Socrates. The article I am using came from the Evan-Moor teacher resource book on ancient Greece. Students will complete the reading of the article in small groups.

I start by asking my class what they remember the expectations of group work to be. They explain how to show respect, responsibility, and hard work. I then give each student a number between 1-4. This will be the group number they will work in. Before they move to their group I make sure they understand the expectations of the project. 

The expectations for the group start with the group choosing a reader/leader. That student will read a paragraph and then stop to check their group's understanding. The group will make annotations, and notes to help them understand the text. I remind them that it is important to check for understanding, the way I do when we read. 


Personal Opinions: Good Vs Evil

10 minutes

Now that they have had a chance to read the article, it is important to establish that we all understood it. To do this I will lead a discussion on what they learned and how they annotated. I want pay particular attention to any reading strategy they used to help them comprehend. 

I ask questions pertaining to who Socrates was and how he influenced those that he taught. We talk about how he changed the way people thought by asking questions of everything. During this time I am looking for students who might not have answered previously and those that I noticed when I monitored.

As we discuss, I hand out 3x5 cards for them to use for notes and to help prepare them for the student-led discussion. I ask them to label one side good and the other side evil. This is one of the topics that Socrates loved to debate and I point this out to the class. 

We begin on the good side. I ask them to write or draw to pictures that relate to humans demonstrating being good. They can use personal examples or from real life events they have heard about. I use the example of Hurricane Katrina and how people helped those that lost their homes. We then do the same thing on the other side, but focus on evil or how humans are bad. I give the example of stealing. Students will now complete their cards to show good and evil.

Good Vs Evil Student Led Discussion

10 minutes

With some ideas on paper and thoughts flowing, we are ready to discuss. I explain to students that we will be trying to discuss similar to how Socrates would have had students discuss. They will be students of Socrates and I will ask them questions along the way to push their thinking. I start by asking one student to start and to explain what they believe, are humans good mostly or bad?

When the discussion gets going I will facilitate. I will also find ways to ask harder questions along the way. It is really trying to get them outside their comfort zone and to push some to frustration. When this does happen I will connect how frustrating it is to be constantly questioned and to how the Athenian government must have felt. 

Taking Sides

10 minutes

With our discussion concluded, they are ready to express themselves in writing. I am asking them to write a paragraph that opens with whether they believe humans to be mostly good or evil. I then tell them that they should include three examples that support their opinion. One of their examples needs to come from what they learned or thought when in the middle of the discussion. They will then restate their opinion and might want to include how the discussion might have helped them.