The Socratic Method

The Socratic Method is a powerful teaching tool that helps students learn thru self-discovery. The fifth century philosopher Socrates created it.

To use this method a teacher asks probing questions to help students “discover” the answer to the question for themselves rather than being told the answer.

This teaching method is effective because it incorporates student involvement. And involvement encourages engagement. This causes the student to think through the question asked and form a response based on logic and reason. Also, student involvement dramatically improves the retention rate of the material.

This method works equally as well outside the classroom. Assisting others to discover the answer to their questions for themselves is a useful communication tool.

Here is an example:

Bruce works in a service organization. He created a survey to ensure his team was meeting customer needs. Bruce sent the survey to Alice (a coworker) to review before sending it off to their customers.

The survey had three-dozen questions. Alice felt it was significantly longer that most people would fill out.

Alice knew Bruce had put a lot of work into the survey and may be a bit sensitive about reducing it in length. She also knew he was very sharp. Instead of telling Bruce it was too long, she asked him if he thought it was the right length where most people would be willing to fill it out.

Bruce didn’t say much about Alice’s comment. However, Alice later received a much shorter survey to review from Bruce. She had succeeded in using the Socrates’ Method to help Bruce discover the proper survey length without hurting his feelings.

Return from the Socratic Method to Problem Solving Techniques