Friday, August 4, 2017

Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates

Title:  Wise Guy:  The Life and Philosophy of Socrates

Author:  M.D. Usher
Illustrator:  William Bramhall
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux ©2005
ISBN: 978-0-374-31249-7
Grade Level:  2-5
Book Review: "You shouldn't think you know something without first having looked at it very closely." Extrapolated from ancient sources Usher writes a biography of Socrates for younger readers.  The book weaves together the main text, a narrative that chronicles the life of Socrates from his youth through his death, with a series of scrolls that highlight his teachings.  Cleverly drawn illustrations add to the reader's understanding of Usher's portrayal. The importance of being willing to ask questions is an important message in this text.
Systems Thinking Connections:
Habits:  What better than a book about thinking to facilitate students own thinking and encourage their questions.  The scroll text found on each page provides information about Socrates' teaching or philosophy. Many of these scrolls lend themselves to making connections to the Habits of a Systems Thinker.  For example, in one scroll, the author explain Socrates dialectic process -- how he refused to believe things were always as they appeared. A connection could be made between this idea and the systems thinking habit considers an issue fully and resists the urge to come to a quick conclusion.  
Or perhaps a link to successive approximation could be found in the idea that Socrates believed "wisdom was an art, like cobbling, that you have to practice if you're going to be any good at it."
If we are really to use this text in a way that honors the philosophies of Socrates, it will be critical to allow readers to make their own meaningful connections within and between systems.