When I was in high school, my teachers presented the course material in their own special way.

My plane geometry teacher used the Socratic Method, which involved asking questions in a systematic way intended to help students organize and reveal their understanding of theorems, axioms and postulates, but above all to learn the thinking process needed to solve proofs.

The Socratic Method was also used by my sophomore English teacher as she led us through the meaning of each poem we read.

My English literature teacher used the Socratic Method to help us understand Shakespearean plays, Chaucer and the eight novels we studied.

Many did not participate very well when this technique was used, but my Engish Lit teacher operated on a point system, so if a student either could not or would not respond when called upon, the teacher would subtract points from the student’s overall grade.

It didn’t take long for most students to get with the program.

There were three or four “A” students in the class who ended up with “C” or “D” grades because they thought they would overcome point deficits by scoring high on the occasional tests the teacher gave.

On the other hand, some “C” students received an “A” because they realized that the only grade that counted was the recitation grade. My teacher wanted to know how we analyzed literature and not how well we could parrot facts.

The lecture method was used in my world history class, and lecture-demonstration was used by my physics teacher.

The lecture method trained me to write down nearly word for word what the teacher was saying. This really gave me an advantage when I went to college.

Recitation and discussion were used in American history, first-year English and American literature. The idea was to involve students actively in communicating to other classmates what they understood about the lesson. Many tests were also given

The drill technique was used in the first two years of Latin, consisting of vocabulary, conjugations and declensions. I thought this process was torture, and I felt that my Latin teacher took pride in the fact that she could grind Latin into us.

By the time I got to third- and fourth-year Latin, I learned how valuable the drills had been when we translated and read the Latin classics — Caesar, Virgil, Ovid and Cicero. The translations were not difficult because those of us who continued in Latin realized we had been superbly trained in the foundations of this ancient language.

In second semester of first-year English, my teacher used the test-teach-test method. The teacher would administer an initial test on the grammar we were going to study to determine what we knew. He would follow this with instruction on our weak areas discovered in the initial test and after a week or two of teaching to our weak areas, he would conclude with a final test to determine how well we had learned the material.

I learned from each of these methods, and I used some of these techniques in my own classrooms.

Join the discussion on social media!