View Full Version : On the nature of a Forum

02-03-2004, 09:42 PM
For openers let me state that Al Schoonmaker and others could write this better than I, but I will give it a shot.

There are many methods of learning.

There is Chinese School, “repeat after me”.
There is the follow my example method: ie: Tim Duncan in basketball, Jesus Christ somewhat earlier. VERY hard way to learn, but effective when the leader is that good.
There is the “Listen to the Words of the Master” method, ie: Gautama Sidartha (Budda), Lao Tse (Tao Te Ching), or any opinion based college course.
There is the “go away with no instructors, peers, or books, and think it out for yourself” method, ie: Isaac Newton, 1665. Not a learning method for most of us.
There is “Read all the books, and think it out for yourself, without benefit of instructors or peers” ie: Albert Einstein 1905. A necessary tool for learning, even if we lack Einstein’s brilliance.
There is the method of every university that involves all of the last three above. (Listen to the lecture, read the book, there will be a quiz at the end of the hour!)

There is also the Socratic method. Which is fundamentally the nature of a forum.
Socratic Method: “The dialectical method employed by Socrates (469?-399BC) to develop a latent idea or to elicit admissions from an opponent.” (Webster)

It involves an open, free forum where exchange of ideas, opinions, and critiques is encouraged and necessary to the learning process. One must be free to express ideas and opinions, and have a forum of peers in which to do so. The ideas can be expressed thoughtfully, with humor, sarcastically, or using any other literary construct. One must accept that those thoughts will be critiqued by ones peers, including those more or less knowledgeable, and accept that sometimes the criticism will be right.

Inherent to the Socratic method is the right to be wrong. In speaking, one accepts the liability of being wrong and being corrected, along with the credit for the ideas that are correct. The learning process involved, however, is in the individual’s ability to take new ideas, or the corrections of his own ideas, think them through, find what portions of them are right or workable within the context of ones own framework of ideas, values, understanding, and experience, use them as appropriate, and possibly reply in agreement, or dissention with the concepts presented, or expand upon them. This is as true of learning poker as of learning philosophy or ethics.

Personal, philosophical, and ideological differences of opinion are clearly a valuable part of the process. A little flaming is not contrary to the process, or at all unexpected, probably especially among poker players who tend to like a good fight anyway. A firmly held opinion, well defended, is of value even when it ultimately proves to be wrong, because it causes all involved in the discussion to THINK.

The Socratic Method does, however, imply that constructive criticism, (or attack when appropriate), is directed at the concepts, and ideas rather than at the person of the one presenting them. “This idea doesn’t fly, and here’s my opinion or experience as to why” is constructive. “Dumb Bast^rd” is destructive to the interchange (even when it might be literally or figuratively correct). There are then, necessarily, communally understood precepts of acceptable conduct within the group.

Leaving the forum or forcing another to leave the forum ends the learning process for that individual, and for all others who would have benefited from that person’s opinions, right or wrong. Leaving is, therefore, non-constructive for all concerned.

It is my thought, that we can have discussions, differences, learn from each other, or agree to disagree, and at the end of the day, whether or not we are beer drinking buddies or even friends, we can all still be valued and respected members of the forum.

For what my opinion is worth.


(Now, lets get back to poker.)