Socratic questioning was named after Socrates. He used an educational method that focused on discovering answers by asking questions from his students.

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Socratic questioning is a form of disciplined questioning that can be used to pursue thought in many directions and for many purposes, including: to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know from what we do not know, to follow out logical consequences of thought or to control discussions.

(“Socratic Questioning” 2022)

Question categories

Related: Bloom’s Taxonomy

Clarifying concepts

  • What exactly does that mean?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • Can you rephrase that?

Challenge assumptions

  • Is that always true?
  • How could you verify or disprove that?
  • What would happen if … ?

Examine rationale, reasons, and evidence

  • Why is that happening?
  • How do you know this?
  • How might one refute it?

Consider alternatives

  • What are other ways of looking at this?
  • Who benefits from this?
  • How are … and … similar?

Consider implications and consequences

  • What if you are wrong?
  • How does that affect … ?
  • How could … be used to … ?

Meta questioning

  • Why did you ask that question?
  • Am I making sense?
  • What else might I ask?