A good way to help other people think about a subject is to ask them a question about it. Being asked a good question can really help us put information together, evaluate our existing ideas and create new ideas.

Asking questions that are specifically intended to help others learn is known as Socratic questioning, named after Socrates in Ancient Greece.

Socratic questions require you to listen very carefully to the other person to help you judge and phrase your question in a helpful, constructive, and hopefully non-confrontational way.

Here are some examples of such questions:

Questions of clarification

Questions that probe assumptions

Questions that probe reasons and evidence

Questions about viewpoints or perspectives

Questions that probe implications and consequences

Questions adapted from Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How To Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World: Foundation for Critical Thinking, Santa Rosa, CA.

More info about writing

More info about reading

Index of all help files