Socratic Method of Teaching – Definition, Examples, and More

February 14, 2022 Learning

The Socratic method of teaching is named after the great philosopher Socrates. This method is one of the famous questioning techniques used to help in decision-making. In this article, you will not only find the definition of the Socratic method. You will also get to know some Socratic questions and Socratic method examples. Besides, we will also try to look into the effectiveness of this technique in the modern era.

What is The Socratic Method of Teaching?

Socratic is one of the unconventional teaching methods. In this method, the shared dialogue consists of probing. One of the interesting things about the Socratic method of teaching is that the teachers do not use lectures to be a part of the classroom experience. They emphasize more on open-ended inquiries and both the students and teachers participate in it.

Features of Socratic Method of Teaching

  • Teachers and students both use questioning tools to understand a subject.
  • It demands the participants to have a non-judgemental and non-confrontational attitude.
  • It focuses more on shared learning, curiosity, assumptions, critical thinking than problem-solving.
  • The Socratic method of questions can be used between two or more people. You can also use it on your own.
  • Socratic dialogues are more like groups discussions where students are encouraged to take part to freely clear their doubts rather than being intimidated by the teachers that happen in a general question-answer session.
  • This method demands the teachers and the students to be taking each idea seriously rather than just listen to one another.

Different Versions of the Socratic Methods

There are mainly 3 versions of the Socratic method. Here they are:

  1. Classic Socratic Method
  2. Modern Socratic Method
  3. “Socratic” Case Method

The Classic Socratic Method

It was perceived from the understanding of Plato’s writings. When Plato would be ignorant of any subject, he would start a dialogue with an aim to seek answers or gain true knowledge.

Modern Socratic Method

This method is used mostly by the teachers of Primary and Secondary educations. In this method, a teacher uses probing techniques to encourage students to think about something with the aim of guiding them to true knowledge.

Socratic Case Method

The Socratic Case method is one of the most popular teaching methods. Law professors use this method to discuss the details of a case and find different angles. They use the classic Socratic teaching combined with the case method and grill the student on a case. This method may create a feeling of intimidation and fear in a student. This is why this method has been in question for a long time and many people think this to be not a proper Socratic method. This is because the original method emphasizes more on shared learning but the Case method does not always have clear answers as students talk about possible solutions based on superficial facts.

Types Socratic Questions and Examples

There are 6 types of questions one can ask in Socratic questioning. 

  1. Clarifying Concepts

These questions relate to what the students are thinking and encourage them to go deeper.

Examples – What exactly do you mean?

                      Can you give an example of that?

                      What do you think the main issue is?

  1. Probing Questions (Reasons and Evidence)

These questions are for digging into a student’s reasoning for an argument.

Examples – Why do you think that happened? 

                      Why is it vital?

  1. Assumption Questions

These questions are related to the beliefs or preconceptions of the students.

Examples –   What else can we assume?

                      What exactly are we assuming here?

  1. Viewpoint Questions

These questions are used to show that there are other valid points than the one being talked about.

Examples – What could be an alternative?

                      Why is it better than the other one?

  1. Probing Questions (Implication and Consequences)

These questions are there for finding out the implications and consequences.

Examples – What would be the effect of that?

                      What do you intend to imply by that?

  1. Origin Questions

It is when one turns the question on itself and question the question itself.

Examples – Where did you hear it from?

                      What made you feel that way?

Socratic Method Example

Here is a Socratic method example to give you some idea of how it works. 

Teacher: Are you saying that you heard about the third wave of Covid from news channels? Are you sure that it will come to the US?

John: It’s going to be terrible. It has already hot South Africa and is slowly spreading to other countries. The news channels have got the news from WHO.

Teacher: If that is the case then how long do you think it will take to spread in the US?

Ricky: Probably in a month.

Shelly: Maybe a little sooner than that.

Teacher: Actually, WHO was talking about Corona Virus variants earlier.

Chris: Yes, each variant coming out is stronger than the previous ones?

Teacher: Yes, how did you know that?

Chris: I read an article on the WHO site warning us to be more careful about the Covid variants as they are said to be more contagious and can affect anyone irrelevant whether one is vaccinated or not.

Teacher: So, looking at the present situation, it seems the virus is not going anywhere soon. Can we hypothesize why?

John: People around the world stopped following precautionary rules when the lockdowns were eased and started socializing without masks or sanitization.

Teacher: What are we assuming when we say that extreme socializing and not following precautionary rules are the causes for the coronavirus to stay with us?

Ricky: Coronavirus is a contagious disease, so going out without masks and not sanitizing hands can transmit the virus from one to many people in a short time.

Shelly: Vaccination can lower the chance of risk factors but may not prevent you from getting the disease or save you from the new variants.

Teacher: Okay, let’s pause for a moment and review what we have discussed so far.


The Socratic method of teaching has many advantages. One of the main benefits of Socratic questions is that it helps you to examine any issues deeply. Also, it helps you to be an active listener and sharpens your critical thinking skills. But students may lose interest in the method if it occurs only between one student and the teacher. Besides, public speaking may not be something everyone is comfortable with. So, many students may feel fear to participate in an open discussion. That is why it is advisable for the teachers to apply this method when they feel confident that this can bring positive results in a classroom.


Benyam Gizaw

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