Can you teach by just asking questions?


2006-3-16

Susan has a very fascinating link about this question.

She quotes an experiment by Rick Garlikov who has attempted to teach 3rd graders about binary number just by asking them questions. And he deliberatly choose a time to do so when the children would be least attentive and concentrated. Interesting stuff!

"[T]he chief benefits of this method are that it excites students' curiosity and arouses their thinking, rather than stifling it. It also makes teaching more interesting, because most of the time, you learn more from the students -- or by what they make you think of -- than what you knew going into the class."

"[It] gives constant feed-back and thus allows monitoring of the students' understanding as you go. So you know what problems and misunderstandings or lack of understandings you need to address as you are presenting the material. You do not need to wait to give a quiz or exam; the whole thing is one big quiz as you go, though a quiz whose point is teaching, not grading."

"[this] is teaching by stimulating students' thinking in certain focused areas, in order to draw ideas out of them; it is not "teaching" by pushing ideas into students that they may or may not be able to absorb or assimilate."

"[And] it forces the teacher to think about the logic of a topic, and how to make it most easily assimilated."

"[It] is crucial to understand the difference between "logically" leading questions and "psychologically" leading questions. Logically leading questions require understanding of the concepts and principles involved in order to be answered correctly; psychologically leading questions can be answered by students' keying in on clues other than the logic of the content."

"[F]inally, two of the interesting, perhaps side, benefits of using the Socratic method are that it gives the students a chance to experience the attendant joy and excitement of discovering (often complex) ideas on their own."

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