How the Buddha taught is as important as what he taught. The Buddha was not only a consummate teacher who was hailed as a teacher of teachers that attracted disciples and debaters from far-flung places, but also an educator who was conscious of ways and means of preserving and propagating his teachings. Techniques and strategies adopted by him and his senior disciples had been most efficacious. His success in getting his discourses codified, explained, summarized and indexed is testified to by the extent, the internal consistency, and the amazing authenticity of the Buddhist canonical works as are accessible in the Pali Tripitaka and the Agama Sutras of the Chinese Tripitaka.
This paper examines the textual evidence on the Buddha as a teacher and discusses the content, methods and techniques of his instruction. Subjected to a detailed and illustrated analysis are the two methodologies preferred by the Buddha: namely, Dhammadesana (lecture-style delivery of discourses) and Dhammasakaccha (interactive, participatory discussion). How the Buddha encouraged question and inquiry is dealt with in some detail to illustrate his maeutic approach to learning wherein the learner was led to conclusions all of his own with the Buddha as only the ‘midwife-like’ facilitator.
A search is made of the theoretical constructs Buddhist education as gleanable from the Anguttaranikaya. Much remains to be known of how the Buddha taught from evidence from other canonical works and this paper serves to indicate further areas of research.