3 Important Steps Of Socratic Method

Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Editorial Team

Are you tired of the old chalk and the board method of teaching? Do you notice the students slowly drifting to sleep as you talk about an important concept?

If you want to make the class more engaging and make the students responsible for their learning, then the Socratic Method is for you. 

This age-old strategy of teaching and learning rejects the chalk-and-board or lecture mode of education. Instead, it asserts that the best learning can happen when the learners are engaged in critical thought, debate, and questions about the topic.

This blog illustrates the advantages of the Socratic Method, the steps to employ it in the classroom, and the considerations to keep in mind while doing the same.

Socratic method: An advantageous educational strategy

When first introduced in the classroom, the Socratic method is supposed to challenge the learners and their thinking patterns. It is an innovative tool that helps break the monotony of a lecture-oriented class and makes the learning experience more learner-centric. 

The Socratic Method emulates, within itself, almost all of the features and benefits of active learning. Here also, the outcome of every class is unique, and learners are more proactively and directly engaged in their learning. The end goal is not only to use the Socratic Method to learn more about the topic at hand but also to encourage the learner to engage in this type of critical thinking every day[1].

A study showed that employing the Socratic Method in the classroom has several benefits, including reduced misconceptions and enhanced organizational and thinking skills, even about their own learning[2]. The Socratic Method, once effectively learned from the classroom, can be used in daily life as well.

From navigating complex moral dilemmas and problems to engaging in self-reflection and effective communication, all the daily tasks that require their fair share of thinking can greatly benefit from individuals learning and using the Socratic Method.

Navigating and implementing the Socratic method

A debate or discussion following the Socratic Method usually follows the three following steps:

1. Introducing


A learner cannot think about and provide their perspective about a topic they don’t know much about. This is why it is important to give a concise but informative introduction and background about the topic. It is neither possible nor advisable for the educator to know everything about the topic and explain it in great depth while starting a Socratic Dialogue. 

The motive is just to provide a basic understanding of the topic of debate so that the learners can engage in critical thinking as well as discussion. For example, if the topic of discussion is how to make education more inclusive and beneficial for those with learning differences, a cursory overview of the current official systems of support in place should be enough to begin.

2. Questioning


This is the main feature of a Socratic Dialogue. The learners are not just served the information on a golden platter. This is where they actively engage themselves to critically think about the topic, discuss it, analyze each other’s takes, and ask insightful questions that further perpetuate the cycle of thinking, discussing, analyzing, and questioning.

While the discussion is going on, the learners are taught to be respectful of everyone’s opinions and encouraged to think from different perspectives. This inclusive approach to thinking, coupled with critical analysis, allowed the learners to find the real-life applicability of various theoretical concepts. This is how they discover loopholes as well as arrive at creative solutions that help in countering them. 

For example, while discussing how to make education more inclusive, a learner might come up with the idea of separate special schools for children with learning differences. While respecting that idea, another learner might point out how this could lead to prejudice and discrimination and how every institution should be equipped to provide extra support to the students who might need it.

3. Summarizing and concluding 

Summarizing and concluding 

This is the final step of a Socratic Dialogue. This might organically happen when the class comes to a consensus about the most effective solution, or the educator might have to cut in and close the discussion for the day because of time or other constraints. If the latter is the case, the educator should make sure the class gets an opportunity to pick the discussion up from right where they are leaving it. 

Either way, the debate or discussion is closed by providing a summary of all topics that were touched upon and the different perspectives that were brought in by the learners. If a mutual solution does emerge, that is also clearly laid out and reiterated. This could also be an opportunity to acknowledge and commend the learners for their active participation and critical thinking skills. 

For example, the debate about making education more inclusive could end with a summary of all the suggestions the class was able to come up with that could and should be employed separately or as an amendment to the current official system of support. The learners who asked inquisitive questions and came up with unique solutions could be recognized and praised by the educator.

Using the Socratic method in your classroom

Introducing the Socratic Method to your classroom can really help in building some crucial skills. Some key points to keep in mind as you do that could be:

1. Start Small and Slow

While in the initial introductory phases, it would be preferable to start a discussion that follows the format of a Socratic Dialogue for a portion of the class, for example, 15 minutes. The topics can be chosen in a way such that they are relatable for the learners. This could get them more interested in the activity. 

2. Model the kind of questions that should be asked

Model the kind of questions that should be asked

While the learners are still picking up and understanding the format of the discussion, the educator can model the kind of questions that further it. The key to questioning during a Socratic dialogue is to encourage critical thinking without personally offending someone. The way to do that can be taught by the educator by giving sample questions while introducing the topic. 

3. Move from moderator to participant

Move from moderator to participant

Initially, the educator would have to take a more active role as a moderator to prevent the debate and discussion from getting too heated. Although the ultimate goal is to gradually reduce this need for moderation, teach the learners to embrace and respect the multiplicity of opinions. The educator should also eventually become an equal participant in the discussion.

Apart from this, teachers and educators can use some motivational tools like quotes to encourage the kids while helping them learn through the Socratic method. 


The Socratic Method is an advantageous educational tool that not only enhances the learning about the topic at hand but also helps the individual learn about themselves. It also helps in developing some important everyday skills like critical thinking and can be employed in daily life to help in decision-making, navigating moral dilemmas, etc.

The Socratic Dialogue usually follows three steps including introducing the topic, asking inquisitive and insightful questions, and summarizing the output of the discussion. This method can be easily employed in the classroom by starting slow and small, with the educator modeling the kind of questioning that should take place and eventually moving from the role of a moderator to that of a participant.


  1. Delić, H., & Bećirović, S. (2016). Socratic method as an approach to teaching. European Researcher. Series A, (10), 511-517.
  2. Lam, F. (2011). The Socratic method as an approach to learning and its benefits.

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