Can the Socratic method be used to teach science or math?



I'm not sure if this is philosophy or pedagogy, because it kind of straddles both!

I've seen this method used for extremely abstract problems in philosophy. But I haven't seen it used for resolving confused beliefs regarding something in science.

Can a good science or math instructor use the Socratic method to resolve difficulties in a student's understanding of a concept in science or math?


Posted 2019-02-08T05:54:11.127

Reputation: 259


Yes, but. Riffel explains in The Socratic Method Reloaded:"Importantly, the Socratic method works best with open-ended questions (not yes/no questions), although it has also been used to teach maths in elementary school". A reference for the latter is Garlikov. Moore method in advanced math is in a similar spirit, although I wouldn't call it "Socratic" exactly.

– Conifold – 2019-02-08T06:06:47.707

Related Can mathematics be learned by ONLY solving problems? on Math Ed SE. More generally, student-centered learning, inquiry-based learning (promoted by Dewey), "guide on the side, not sage on the stage" teaching, flipped classrooms can be broadly seen as the modern descendants of the Socratic method, and are employed in teaching science and math, among other subjects.

– Conifold – 2019-02-08T06:29:37.373

I made an edit which you may roll back or continue editing. – Frank Hubeny – 2019-02-08T10:53:17.593



The Meno is one of the original Platonic dialogues that introduces the Socratic Method explicitly as a pedagogical technique. In it, the example use of the method is to teach --or as Plato prefers to conceptualize it, induce recollection of-- mathematics, specifically geometry.

In addition to demonstrating the method itself, it also shows how it could be used in a mathematical context.

When in doubt, go back to the original source!

Chris Sunami supports Monica

Posted 2019-02-08T05:54:11.127

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