Socratic Questioning for Teachers
[Gadfly, Midwife, Stingray, Ignoramus]

Socratic Questioning for Teachers

What is Socratic Questioning for Teachers?

Socratic Questioning for Teachers uses techniques to promote independent and critical thinking in their students.

Socratic questions are probing questions which require students to use high order thinking skills, such as, evaluation, analysis and synthesis of information.

This can be achieved by the teacher adopting four roles:

  1. Gadfly
  2. Midwife
  3. Stingray
  4. Ignoramus

VIDEO: Socratic Questioning for Teachers Explained

Socratic Questioning: The Four Roles [Gadfly, Midwife, Stingray, Ignoramus

  1. GADFLY: The teacher acts like a gadfly, by asking multiple probing questions to dig deeper into the student’s knowledge and understanding of the topic. 
  2. MIDWIFE: The teacher asks supportive and encouraging questions in order to ‘give birth’ to new ideas.
  3. STINGRAY: The teacher asks direct questions which aim to introduce a shock to the discussion with the aim of moving the discussion into a new direction.
  4. IGNORAMUS: The teacher acts like an ignoramus, pretending they know absolutely nothing about the topic in order to ask students to explain the topic to them in detail.

This is a simple way to implement Socratic questioning for teachers in lessons.

These four roles provide a simple and practical framework for teachers to use when asking questions.

Socratic Questioning for teachers actually forms part of my top 5 Questioning techniques to use in the classroom: If you want to find out the other four you should check out the full article below:

My Top Five Questioning Techniques for Teachers

Socratic Questioning is a complex topic and one which is used across a range of disciplines. This article deliberately simplifies Socratic Questioning for Teachers in order to make it a more accessible and usable concept in the classroom. If you wish to explore the wider use and application of Socratic Questioning beyond teaching you may want to check out this article: Socratic Questioning

Socratic Questioning: GADFLY

The first role of Socratic questioning for teachers is the gadfly. The teacher acts like a gadfly by continuously probing students for more information. 

The teacher uses questions to nag and poke students for more information. This is achieved by asking students why, when, what, who and how.

These types of questions challenge students to think more deeply about the topic being learned.

Socratic Questioning for teachers GADFLY

Socratic Questioning: MIDWIFE

Teacher can act like a midwife by asking supportive questions which aim to enable students to ‘give birth’ to new ideas and opinions. 

The teacher would ask questions which facilitate discussion and coach students to generate new ideas.

This is achieved through scaffolding learning and building upon existing ideas shared by students.

The use of ABC Questioning can work well when adopting this role. 

Socratic Questioning for teachers midwife

Socratic Questioning: STINGRAY

The teacher can act like a stingray by introducing a ‘shock’ into the discussion at relevant points. By asking questions which disrupt student thinking in a non-conventional way, the teacher will encourage critical and abstract thinking. 

Teachers should be mindful not to ask too many disruptive questions as this can inhibit the progression of thought, however when asked in moderation, and at an appropriate time, stingray questions can greatly enhance conversations and modes of thinking. 

Socratic Questioning for teachers stingray

Socratic Questioning: IGNORAMUS

The final role of Socratic Questioning for teachers is to act like an ignoramus. This is achieved by pretending to know absolutely nothing about the topic being discussed (sadly, this is an easy role to play for me!). 

By doing this it places the student in the position of teacher and encourages them to teach you and others about the topic. Often the teacher will find themselves asking students ‘why?’ repeatedly when adopting this role.

Socratic Questioning for teachers ignoramus

Socratic Questioning actually forms part of my top 5 Questioning techniques to use in the classroom: If you want to find out the other four you should check out the full article below:

My Top Five Questioning Techniques for Teachers

Author: Jonathan Sandling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.