Definition: designed or intended to teach
The word seems vaguely condescending – to be “didactic” is to be a bore that lectures and moralizes at every opportunity.
Why I Looked It Up
The Wikipeda page for John Demjanjuk, the Ohio autoworker who was tried as a Nazi death camp guard, says this:
The prosecution conceived of the trial as a didactic trial on the Holocaust in the manner of the earlier trial of Adolf Eichmann.
So, the Israeli government intended to use the trial not just to convict Demjanjuk, but as a larger tool to teach the world about the Holocaust.
(Demjanjuk was convicted in a year-long trial, then was freed on appeal and returned to the United States. A decade later, he was accused of different – but similar – war crimes, and was deported to Germany, where he was again convicted. He died in a German nursing home at 91, while an appeal was pending. According to German law, this means he was never fully convicted, so his remains were returned to the US and buried in Ohio.)
I found this article: The Didactic Novel. The author discusses three novels and how they teach in the process of telling a story.
- Shogun by James Clavell
It’s hard to read Shogun all the way through and not learn at least a few words in Japanese […] given the limited amount of space devoted to these basic Japanese lessons, it’s a very effective introduction.
- Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
This is a book about cryptography, and so pretty much every other chapter has some lesson, implicit or explicit, about topics like symbols, languages, systems, inference, even actual algorithms or code snippets.
- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality which is fan fiction by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Explicitly, HPMoR asks the question: what if Harry Potter were raised by an Oxford professor and was intensively homeschooled, instead of being raised in a closet by the Dursleys? Also explicitly, HPMoR is Yudkowsky’s attempt to teach the scientific method and “the methods of rationality” to a general audience.