The Answers Are in the Questions


He wrote no papers. He made no concrete statements. He claimed to know nothing.

So how did a self-described "ignorant man" become the world's most revered philosopher and teacher? Socrates knew the power of asking the right questions.

The Socratic Method:

  • Stresses the importance of intellectual humility.
  • Transforms students from seeking to be seen as the "smartest person in the room" into someone who listens carefully and asks the right questions at exactly the right time.
  • Requires teachers to truly believe that questions are more important than answers and that students learn best by doing.

The Socratic Method, in conjunction with case teaching and experiential learning, prepares students to make difficult decisions by forcing them to stand in the shoes of the entrepreneur. It also gives students the judgment and skills that takes others 10 years to learn in the school of "hard-knocks."


How do you teach judgment? Chess players become chess masters by playing chess, over and over again, until like a general surveying a battlefield, they begin to recognize the patterns formed by the pieces on a chess board.

The 300 cases in Acton's curriculum help students develop this same sense of pattern recognition in the great game of business. Students develop the judgment and intuition by standing in the shoes of real entrepreneurs and making high-stakes decisions. That way, when they face a problem in the real world, they'll be able to say "I've seen this before and I know that the most important question to ask is.."

Intuition, the power of pattern recognition, is one of the most powerful outcomes of the Acton Foundation's curriculum.


Many business schools lecture to students, teaching tools and skills by rote and stressing memorizing terminology and arcane theories over action. Learning with the Acton curriculum is like flying a complex flight simulator. Students work hard to learn the systems and tools. Then they crawl into the simulator, with an experienced entrepreneur as co-pilot, asking all the right questions. Engines quit, lightening strikes and pressures mount. The student soon believes that he or she is in a real entrepreneur's shoes. Sometimes the airplane crashes, but the entrepreneur merely pushes the "reset" button and the plane is back on final approach, giving the student a chance to try again.

The stakes feel high in a classroom using an Acton Foundation course. But the classroom is just a business simulator, preparing students to make difficult decisions when real money and real lives are on the line. Most importantly, like a flight simulator, students are placed in real-world dilemmas to show them why they need specific tools. Once they understand why they need them, they'll want to learn them.

Answers are in the Questions
“What I learned in the program has saved me lots of time and money. The beautiful thing is that what I got from the Acton Foundation's curriculum was a principled based framework that works every time and everywhere! The journey has not been without mistakes and bruises, but the falls have not been fatal.”

An Acton Foundation Alumnus, 2000