The Socratic Method

Author: Samuel Williams When: Tuesday, 25 May 2010
"He who learns but does not think is lost" — Chinese Proverb

Is it possible to teach by only asking questions? According to Socrates, this is a good method for stimulating critical thinking and illuminating ideas. One particularly relevant example involves teaching students to use binary numbers.

By asking a question, and soliciting an answer, we are engaging people to think about the question. If the question is chosen carefully, we can encourage people to build a model in their head in order to produce an answer. This, in a sense, is a method of empowering people to answer the question by understanding it rather than simply reciting known facts.

In contrast, memorisation of factual information encourages little if any integration of new information with previously learnt knowledge.

Further Reading

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