Questions as Teachers

Dr. Steven Tomlinson is, in my opinion, the most masterful Socratic teacher in the world. Tip for the day: Google him and watch his TED talk. You will think of your life differently.

Simply put, Steven transforms people with his questions.

I asked him to engage with me for fun on why we chose the Socratic Method for teaching at Acton Academy. (As co-founder of the Acton School of Business and a coach for our Acton Academy guides, he has influenced our program in profound ways.)

I hope you enjoy the dialogue:

Why use questions to teach?

A good question inspires learning.

But what is inspiration? 

It’s the fusion of direction and motivation — and the energy released.

Where does direction come from?

Signs carefully placed by someone who has already explored the path.

And motivation?

From the joy of discovery and the desire to know and from the will to be both playful and powerful, like the teacher who asks questions before knowing the answers.

What is a good question?

Take some missing piece of the puzzle, and hold it up to the light. “What about this?” Follow them off the path, into the thicket. “Where are we headed? How far can we go?” Call for courage. “Which one will you choose?”

 How do I become a good teacher?

What sort of answer are you looking for? Before technique comes intention. Give up on impressing students. Give up on helping them. Commit to be with them and enjoy them and risk learning alongside them.