What Is Didactic Teaching?

Didactic teaching asserts the role of the teacher as that of the expert, with the students being receptors of the teacher’s knowledge and experience. Lessons are primarily lecture based, with this method most often used for the presentation of factual information. With didactic teaching, it is the student’s job to take notes and listen, answering and giving responses when required.

The didactic approach to learning was practiced often throughout early human history. Passing down knowledge from father to son required the son to listen and practice the skills demonstrated by the father. Early education consisted of much rote recall of facts and absorption of knowledge.

Didactic instruction is a more passive model of learning than the Socratic model. In the Socratic model, lessons are more inquiry-based. Students question and evaluate, with the teacher being a co-learner. Tasks are more problem-based, with discussion, dialogue and problem solving being prevalent in the Socratic classroom.

Though seemingly at odds with each other, both approaches to teaching often co-exist within modern classrooms. Many teachers utilize a two-pronged approach, teaching a portion of the class period using the didactic approach and spending another portion of class time using the Socratic approach. The content of the curriculum and needs of the learner are important when determining which teaching delivery method to use.