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A didactic method (Greek: διδάσκειν didáskein, "to teach") is a teaching method that follows a consistent scientific approach or educational style to engage the student's mind. The didactic method of instruction is often contrasted with dialectics and the Socratic method; the term can also be used to refer to a specific didactic method, as for instance constructivist didactics.
Didactics is a theory of teaching, and in a wider sense, a theory and practical application of teaching and learning. In demarcation from "mathetics" (the science of learning), didactics refers only to the science of teaching.
The theory of didactic learning methods focuses on the baseline knowledge students possess and seeks to improve upon and convey this information. It also refers to the foundation or starting point in a lesson plan, where the overall goal is knowledge. A teacher or educator functions in this role as an authoritative figure, but also as both a guide and a resource for students.
Didactics or the didactic method have different connotations in continental Europe and English speaking countries. For the Anglo-Saxon tradition, the didactic method still carries the original meaning of teaching moral contents, and is therefore associated with unfavourable views opposed to the teachings of a true art or science. The Oxford dictionary merely defines didactics as a particularly moral instruction. Didacticism was indeed the cultural origin of the didactic method but refers within its narrow context usually pejoratively to the use of language to a doctrinal end. The interpretation of these opposing views are theorised to be the result of a differential cultural development in the 19th century when Great Britain and its former colonies went through a renewal and increased cultural distancing from continental Europe. It was particularly the later appearance of Romanticism and Aestheticism in the Anglo-Saxon world which offered these negative and limiting views of the didactic method. In continental Europe those moralising aspects of didactics were removed earlier by cultural representatives of the age of enlightenment, such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and later specifically related to teaching by Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.
The consequences of these cultural differences then created two main didactic traditions: The Anglo-Saxon tradition of curriculum studies on one side and the Continental and North European tradition of didactics on the other. Still today, the science of didactics carries much less weight in much of the English-speaking world.
With the advent of globalisation at the beginning of the 20th century, however, the arguments for such relative philosophical aspects in the methods of teaching started to diminish somewhat. It is therefore possible to categorise didactics and pedagogy as a general analytic theory on three levels:
- a theoretical or research level (denoting a field of study)
- a practical level (summaries of curricular activities)
- a discursive level (implying a frame of reference for professional dialogs)
Didactic method provides students with the required theoretical knowledge. It is an effective method used to teach students who are unable to organize their work and depend on the teachers for instructions. It is also used to teach basic skills of reading and writing. The teacher or the literate is the source of knowledge and the knowledge is transmitted to the students through didactic method.
Functions of didactic method
- cognitive function: to understand and learn basic concepts
- formative-educative function: to develop skills, behavior, abilities, etc.
- instrumental function : to achieve educational objectives
- normative function : helps to achieve productive learning, attain required results, etc.
Method of teaching
In didactic method of teaching, the teacher gives instructions to the students and the students are mostly passive listeners. It is a teacher-centered method of teaching and is content oriented. The content or knowledge of the teacher is not questioned.
The process of teaching involves the teacher who gives instructions, commands, delivers content, and provides necessary information. The pupil activity involves listening and memorization of the content. In the modern education system, lecture method which is one of the most commonly used methods is a form of didactic teaching.
Though the didactic method has been given importance in several schools, it does not satisfy the needs and interests of all students. It can be tedious for students to listen to the lectures. There is minimum interaction between the students and the teachers. Learning which also involves motivating the students to develop an interest towards the subject may not be satisfied through this teaching method.  It is a monologue process and experience of the students does not have a significant role in learning.
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