Can the Socratic Method (or other instructional uses of questioning) be misused?

Like any instructional technique the Socratic technique, or any other forms of questioning, can be misused in instructional settings. Perhaps the most common misuse of questioning in classrooms is the application of questions to embarrass students or training participants, who, in the educator's mind, are not paying attention, or have not done the work.

Typically an instructor will single out an obviously ill prepared person and ask a question they cannot possibly answer. Such an instructor might rationalize this action by suggesting it's an attempt to kick the student in the backside and get him or her on track, but in reality, it's more likely done when a teacher is angry and wishes to strike back. It certainly isn't an effective way to encourage participation and critical thinking which is what questions should be used for.

Here's an interesting short video on what is purported to be the use of the socratic method within a law school environment. Note that law schools tend to apply stress and pressure to studens in the program as a matter of course, so the extremely pressurized use of questions is somewhat congruent with the style of education. That's not to say it's ideal, however.  

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