in reply to Should a Socratic Dialogue be attempted?

As a TA, I have often been faced with this dilemma: should I just give the student the answer, or try to make him come up with it himself? I think it helps to look at the bigger picture, and ask which approach will make the student's life better overall. Will the annoyance and time spent on being "Socratic" actually be paid for in later problem-solving? It also helps to compare how much time you spend answering the question with how much time they waste floundering around.

Also, I think the discipline as a whole leans too far towards the "RTFM" approach. Anyone who has spent some time as a programmer has probably learned to exhaust all possible options before asking a human being even the smallest question. So it's probably best to err on the side of being helpful rather than didactic.

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