Socratic Method and our Teaching Methodologies


Education obtained with money is worse than no education at all. I have not sought during my life to amass wealth and to adorn my body, but I have sought to adorn my soul with the jewels of wisdom, patience, and above all with a love of liberty- Socrates

By Rashid Ali Chandio

When it comes to philosophy and its discussion then Socrates occupies a front seat in that because of his enormous contribution to bring philosophy from sky to earth and introduce its true meaning, essence, purpose among Athenian people who were stick to treat it as a dry subject which has nothing to do with real life issues and affairs. Socrates was Ancient Greek philosopher of his high caliber who lived from 470 to 399 BC. He is credited as a founder of Western philosophy and laid the foundation of moral and ethical philosophy of thought. He is also entitled as first philosopher who received the death of martyrdom for the sake of speaking right thing and truth.

Socrates began his journey to philosophize everything through his popular method, which is remembered with number of names like, Socratic-method or method of “elenchus” or dialectical method. The method was first brought on the surface by his loving disciple PLATO, in his written works of “SOCRATIC DIALOGUES”. The method is largely defined as the examination or close inquiry of fundamental moral concepts such as good, justice, courage, goodness, bravery, ethics etc., in the form of dialogue between two or more than two interlocutors in order to reach the shared possible conclusion or hypothesis which further cannot be questioned or objected and from that conclusion, more hypothesis could be extracted for additional discourse. In this way the process of dialogue goes on. As Socrates himself says, “Unexamined life is not worth living”.

Moreover, this method was invented and developed by Socrates in the reaction of some of his contemporary philosophers who were known as “SOPHISTS”, who used philosophy and their knowledge for the sake of earning money. The chief business of SOPHISTS, were to teach the art of rhetoric to their students so that their students win debates, impose their thoughts on others through their rhetoric power, make others to accept their ideas and abandon their own ideas, convert right proposition into wrong and wrong into right and so on. Socrates did not like that business of philosophy and came up with his own method. Socrates rejected the SOPHISTS idea of making money or earning money by selling knowledge or education.

“Education obtained with money is worse than no education at all. I have not sought during my life to amass wealth and to adorn my body, but I have sought to adorn my soul with the jewels of wisdom, patience, and above all with a love of liberty”, Socrates said.

Teaching methodologies varies from teacher to teacher. No teacher can go with same teaching methodology because number of the factors come into play just like, internal and external factors ; internal factors include, teachers own personality, personal biases, understanding of the subject, motivation and aspiration towards that subject, personal interest, relationship with students, etc. external factors encompasses, students need, students level of understanding, students interest towards that subject, class environment, availability of various equipment and resources, quantity of students, age of the students, gender and so on. A bad teacher always complains about things and resources that this thing is not available, that thing is not available, so bad teachers always have a bundle of complains about his/her teaching. A good teacher is a one who always makes every situation a learning place. No matter what the situation is and how things move in or out of the classes, but a good teacher always focuses on teaching because learning is the reception of teaching. If students are being provided healthy environment and stimulated knowledge that opens their critical sight to see and observe things as they are.

In fact, most of our teachers including myself are not well accomplished regarding using numerous methods of teaching, which make a difference between a good and a bad teacher. Teaching methods of several types: such as, human, cultural, natural, technological, and scientific method. Methods are related to learning as baby is associated with mother. There are various attributes with effective teaching/learning process. Some of them are following:

  • There must be enthusiasm in teacher to deliver knowledge with full confidence.
  • Teacher must have a sense of humor to switch a topic before students begin to divert.
  • Teacher must be open for all types of question which are being asked by students anytime in the class.
  • Teacher has a thorough knowledge about his/her subject including knowledge of local culture of the country.
  • Teacher must be always supportive and encourage students to do more in order learn things under their premises.
  • Teacher should not teach, but discover hidden talent of the students by practicing different methods, techniques and strategies.
  • Teacher must possess flexibility in nature, adaptability in style, and strength in credibility while teaching in the classroom.
  • Teacher keeps a high expectation for the success of the subject.
  • Teacher must be passionate, loveable, kind, loyal towards his/her students.
  • Teacher should own his/her pupils so that students never think for any kind of disassociation, anxiety, alienation. Instead, teacher and student is s one, who travel in the same boat with same objectives to be achieved.

Socratic-method and our teaching methodologies are far away from one another and seems very difficult to make their patch up because we, teachers are not ready to identify and accept our ignorance. Socrates did nothing magical, but he made his people to realize their ignorance of knowing everything, although, they were not knowing anything. As Socrates says for himself that “I know one thing that I know nothing”. This phrase truly reflects the power of not knowing anything rather than pretend to know everything. From this, the knowing begins to take place, and in this way, people come out from their ignorance and move towards true knowledge. As Socrates further says, “Knowledge is a virtue and ignorance is an evil”. Unfortunately, our today’s educational system does not endorse such type of teaching/learning process. Our education only serves the instrumental purposes and true essence and purpose of achieving knowledge/education has been long ago vanished. True purpose of education can be reobtained when we teachers get back to use Socratic-method in our institutions because our pupils follow teachers and make them their role models. So, changing in thought must be furnished from top, automatically bottom will be alright.


Writer is teaching Assistant at the department of English, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Shaheed Benazirabad




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