The Principles of Classical Pedagogy II

Mimetic and Socratic Teaching


 with Andrew Kern of the Circe Institute

In this course, master classical educator Andrew Kern presents what he considers to be two critical modes of classical pedagogy: mimetic and Socratic teaching. By mimetic, he means the ways in which educators present models for imitation and incarnate the delight of learning, becoming models themselves. Socratic teaching for Andrew means fostering a hunger for knowledge during an ironic stage when students become aware of their ignorance but begin to truly seek answers. This leads to the second “maieutic” (related to “midwife”) stage in Socratic teaching when the student’s own earnest seeking for truth gives birth to new insights and knowledge.

Combined, the mimetic and Socratic modes of teaching help students to engage, study and seek after the true, good, and the beautiful that leads to the cultivation of virtue and wisdom.

This course features Andrew Kern at his very best, speaking with clarity, passion, insight and inspiration. Teachers will also enjoy the interviews of Andrew with Dr. Christopher Perrin, that follow each lecture. Don’t be fooled by the brevity of this course; though brief, its pith and practicality will greatly help any educator wishing to master classical pedagogy.

This course is divided into seven lessons, consisting of a lecture and a conversation or interview following each lecture. The first lecture introduces the ideas of mimetic and Socratic teaching, both of which are developed in subsequent lectures. Within each lesson, you will find a video lecture, reading assignments, questions for discussion and reflection, and additional recommended resources.

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Mimetic and Socratic Teaching
  • Lesson 2: Conversation and Interview with Dr. Christopher Perrin
  • Lesson 3: Mimetic Teaching
  • Lesson 4: Conversation and Interview with Dr. Christopher Perrin
  • Lesson 5: Socratic Teaching
  • Lesson 6: Conversation and Interview with Dr. Christopher Perrin
  • Lesson 7: Training as an Apprentice with Circe

Andrew Kern is founder and president of the CiRCE Institute, a co-author of The Lost Tools of Writing and of Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America, which he wrote with Dr. Gene Edward Veith. Since establishing CiRCE in 1996 to serve classical educators through research and consulting, Andrew has trained and apprenticed innumerable home and school teachers, heads of school, and school boards. Andrew helped start Providence Academy in Green Bay, WI in 1993, Foundations Academy (now Ambrose School) in Boise, ID in 1996, The Great Ideas Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2001, and Regents School of the Carolinas in 2006. He and his wife live in North Carolina, and their five more or less classically educated and more or less home schooled children and ever more grandchildren live in various places depending on when you ask. Students of this course will also be interested in learning more about the Apprenticeship Program directed by Andrew Kern as part of the Circe Institute.

Andrew Kern recommends the following books as background reading for understanding mimetic teaching and Socratic teaching:


    The Meno, by Plato (for studying Socratic teaching)

To obtain a certification credit for this course, simply take the quiz that follows each of the lectures or presentation by Andrew Kern, and then also take the certification test at the end of the course. The quizzes are designed to ensure that you have understood the essential content of each presentation and can be taken more than once if necessary. The cumulative certification test at the end of the course is given as a pass/fail test and also requires that you upload two short essays (of 400-600 words) showing your understanding of Mimetic and Socratic teaching.

For this course the two essay assignments are:

1. Describe what Mimetic teaching is and how it will help students learn effectively.

2. Describe what Socratic teaching is and how it will help students learn effectively.

By taking the course for certification credit, you also will be on your way to obtaining a Level 2 certification. This course counts toward our Level 2 certification, but it can be taken by anyone—even those still working their Level 1 certification on ClassicalU. This course is the ideal complement to Principles of Classical Pedagogy I, a Level 1 core course.

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