May 31, 2014

Socratic Questioning

Socrates was a great educator who taught by asking questions. He used six types of questions, attempting to challenge accuracy of thinking as well as completeness. Critical thinking skills are important for our youth so that they can be thinkers and not mere reflectors of others’ thoughts and opinions.

Below are listed the six types of questions he used, as well as a sample from each category.

1. Conceptual clarification—Get them to prove the concepts behind their argument. What exactly does this mean?

2. Probing assumptions—Get them to think about their presuppositions. You seem to be assuming . . .

3. Probing rationale, reasons, and evidence—Dig into their reasoning. How do you know this?

4. Questioning viewpoints and perspectives—Show that there are other, equally valid viewpoints. What alternative ways of looking at this are there?

5. Probe implications and consequences—Do the logical implications make sense? How does . . . fit with what we learned before?

6. Questions about the question—Bounce the ball back into their court. Why do you think I asked this question?

(Taken from