Asking the right questions.

My formative academic years largely consisted of Socrates’ infamous dialectic method, whether in the vein of Plato’s Meno or The Republic, or just some incredibly exacting tutors! Therefore, I am particularly interested in the questioning aspect of the Mentor’s role. As I begin to gain experience on this side of the question mark, then, I have been exploring some information about the best ways to frame questions and also the thinking behind such an approach.
I found the following articles and sites particularly useful. They explore, with useful examples, how the method of questioning – rather than teaching – puts the participants on an even, respectful keel; broadens horizons beyond the immediate topic; encourages the Mentee to form their own opinions and evidenced reasoning; and, most of all, entices the Mentee to begin to question the world for themselves.
Of course, if you get the chance to read any of the original Classical dialogues, you will quickly see that Socrates often pushes the method too far, to the irritation of many a conversational participant! As a starting point, though, whether for a Mentoring session or perhaps even an essay, a question is undoubtedly a very good basis on which to explore and acquire further knowledge. Indeed, it can also lead to the most amazing of discoveries. Thus, I will be honing my asking, as well as listening, skills this year.


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