For the SFCP education means:

  • Assisting people to develop capacity to live as independently-thinking rational ethical agents.
  • Promoting concepts of citizenship appropriate to a pluralist society.
  • Enabling people to make an autonomous contribution to society and their communities.

A central method used by the Society in pursuit of this purpose is the Socratic Dialogue as developed by its twentieth century founder, Leonard Nelson, and further developed by his student Gustav Heckmann.

Is bullying a fact of life? A Socratic question asked (2000).

We aim through this to:

  • Encourage the development of sound independent critical judgement among participants.
  • Cultivate a broader and deeper ethical awareness.

Our method involves:

  • Examining personal experience through participation in critical dialogue.
  • Working in a group setting with a trained facilitator.
  • Working towards a consensus through mutual understanding.

Socratic Dialogue in Schools with Rene Saran and Tamsyn Imison

With the support and co-operation of Tamsyn Imison, Dr Rene Saran carried out a number of Socratic dialogues with school children on topics such as ‘Is bullying a fact of life?’ Saran is joint editor (together with Barbara Neisser) of Enquiring Minds – Socratic Dialogue in Education, which discusses how the Socratic Method provides opportunities for educators to:

– foster rational critical thinking skills

– develop autonomy among learners

– nurture emotional intelligence and empathy.

Dame Tamsyn Imison (1937-2017) was Deputy Head, then Head Teacher of London Comprehensive Schools (retired from Hampstead School 2000); Member of numerous Committees and on Executive of Secondary Heads Association (SHA); freelance educational consultant (since retirement); Chair of SFCP. She wrote about her experience with Socratic Dialogue. Her article ‘Using Socratic Dialogue in School‘ was published in the July 2000 edition of ‘Headlines’, published by the Secondary Heads Association. 

Tamsyn also contributed a chapter to Enquiring Minds (2004).