A good way to help other people think about a subject is to ask them a question about it. Being asked a good question can really help us put information together, evaluate our existing ideas and create new ideas.
Asking questions that are specifically intended to help others learn is known as Socratic questioning, named after Socrates in Ancient Greece.
Socratic questions require you to listen very carefully to the other person to help you judge and phrase your question in a helpful, constructive, and hopefully non-confrontational way.
Here are some examples of such questions:
Questions of clarification
Questions that probe assumptions
Questions that probe reasons and evidence
Questions about viewpoints or perspectives
Questions that probe implications and consequences
Questions adapted from Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How To Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World: Foundation for Critical Thinking,
"I would like to ask if it is possible that we are concentrating a bit too much on method. If each of us would think back to his/her own primary, secondary and higher education, I am sure that each of us would be able easily to recall one or more superior teachers who had a very positive impact on our learning and possibly on our lives. For many of us, we need to go back 20, 30 and even 50 or more years to remember such a teacher. Almost by definition, such cream of the crop professionals did not have the knowledge of cognitive development that we have today, nor were they trained in the methods that are promoted today. Many of them utilized what we now call "traditional" methods. Still, they were great teachers, and we were able to learn from them. I ask you to consider why that was. For my part, I suspect it was because of something internal to them: their enthusiasm for their craft, their concern for the student, and their ability to keep us interested (and, yes, there were lecturers who could keep our undivided attention). Also, each one showed their enthusiasm, their concern, and their abilities IN DIFFERENT WAYS.
I am reminded of a story my wife told me. She was a beginning AVON sales rep and wanted to know the secret to success in her field. She asked the most veteran rep who always had the highest sales in her district for advice. The response was simple: "You've got to love AVON." While my wife and I were both a little frustrated with this because we were looking for a more "nuts and bolts"-style of advice, we have both come to realize that that response is a necessary and possibly the most important element to success in that field.
While love for a craft may be a necessary element to success, it is not usually sufficient. And certainly we should be discussing effective teaching methods, especially in light of the broad range of classroom situations we find ourselves in, as well as the diversity of students we are trying to help. Training,life-long learning and peer discussions can be extremely helpful. But let us acknowledge that no one method should be considered THE key to success; that what is old is not necessarily bad nor that what is today's craze is necessarily the best; that teaching is still an art; that flexibility and open-mindedness are useful to all; and that what we bring into the classroom from within ourselves will be felt by most students and responded to, no matter where we position ourselves inside the classroom. "
(c)Allan French, ESL Instructor, South Seattle Community College, http://www.nifl.gov/pipermail/professionaldevelopment/2006/000461.html