• didactic •
dai-dæk-tik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Instructive, intended to instruct, especially sententiously or dogmatically. 2. Instructive in a rigidly dogmatic way; preachy, doctrinaire.
Notes: Today's word refers to the opposite of Open Learning, the most popular examples of which are the Socratic and Montessori methods. It originally referred to teaching a rigidly defined core of base principles which later learning would expand. Didactic comes with a small but active family. The abstract noun is didacticism and the personal noun is didactician. It comes with an adverb, too: didactically.
In Play: Didactic has moved away from the meaning "instructive" toward a focus on one style of instruction, instructing dogmatically: "US films on politics tend to be didactic and preachy, the writer and director taking one side of an issue in an obvious way." Michael Moore is a US director who does nothing but didactic films.
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from (where else?) French didactique. French picked it up from Greek didaktikos "skillful at teaching", from didaktos "taught", the past participle of didaskein "teach, instruct". The prefix is made up of the initial letter of dak-, D, plus an I, a process known in linguistics as 'reduplication'. It was used to indicate the perfective aspects of Greek verbs. The root of this word is the Proto-Indo-European root dens- "to receive, accept, learn", which came to Latin as discere "to learn". (Jay Gilliam suggested today's Good Word in a way that is didactic in the original sense of the word.)
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