Socratic Method

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What are your thoughts on the socratic method?

I like it alot. I find it helpful and superior to standard lecturing.
21
22%
I personally like it, but I find it doesn't contribute to helping the majority learn or creating an effective class overall.
15
16%
I don't personally like it, but it has its value as a teaching method and I support its ongoing use.
17
18%
I don't like it, and I find that it is an unnecessary and archaic teaching method with costs far exceeding any benefits.
40
42%
I have an opinion far different from these options which I will explain in a posted reply.
3
3%
 
Total votes: 96

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Detrox
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Socratic Method

Postby Detrox » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:06 pm

Just curious as to current trend of views on the Socratic Method. I know alot of people hate cold calls etc., but I'm intrigued as to the current state of opinion on the system overall.

bdubs
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby bdubs » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:16 pm

Socratic method is only as useful as the ability of your professor to elicit valuable responses and your classmates ability to understand the professors questions. I find that most of my professors are unable to elicit helpful responses from my classmates. Sometimes it is a result of my classmates inability to comprehend a valid question, but most of the time it is just poor questioning by the professor.

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NYC Law
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby NYC Law » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:19 pm

I have some very socratic teachers and some less socratic teachers, it's FAR easier to grasp the concepts in the non-socratic classes. I've never seen the big deal about the Socratic method, it isn't intimidating/scary, it's just a distraction.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby Lawquacious » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:36 pm

I think it depends on how it is used. I sometimes get annoyed by profs who cold call people by going down a list or who seem to have a very clear idea of the right or wrong answers for the questions they are asking (and who beat students over the head in that regard perhaps).

Some questions do have simple right or wrong answers of course, but I think the Socratic method is most effective when it is a genuine expression of intellectual curiousity used with the goal of getting students to think (rather than with the goal of testing the student on rote subject matter or somehow simply proving the teacher's own superiority).

Law involves a lot of ambiguity, and I think Socratic method can help balance a respect for the ambiguity present in many legal issues with a need to approach reasonable answers, all in an improvisational context (which is the type of context that much law is ultimately practiced in).

zomginternets
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby zomginternets » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:43 pm

bdubs wrote:Socratic method is only as useful as the ability of your professor to elicit valuable responses and your classmates ability to understand the professors questions. I find that most of my professors are unable to elicit helpful responses from my classmates. Sometimes it is a result of my classmates inability to comprehend a valid question, but most of the time it is just poor questioning by the professor.


+1. My 1L profs were awesome and were really good at using the socratic method to lead a discussion that focused on the important issues. My 2L profs are utterly incapable of using the socratic method to elicit responses from students that leads to the issue they wish to discuss. They are also really lazy and just go alphabetically down the list, so you just totally tune out until you know your name is going to be called soon.

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beachbum
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby beachbum » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:53 pm

I'll agree with those who say it's entirely dependent on the prof. My contracts professor is heavy-socratic, and he uses it to really bring out some meaningful thoughts and discussions. He also calls on people randomly, and really pressures them to think critically about a given case (including how it relates to other cases we've studied), so you're kinda forced to read and think about the cases carefully. One class period I was cold-called for over an hour, after having been cold-called for about 20 minutes in the previous day's class. That wasn't fun, but I'm glad I was prepared.

My other two classes are much less effective with the socratic method. Both use it off and on, and both are generally looking for only a surface understanding in your answers. It feels like they cold-call simply because cold-calling is expected in 1L classes, and not because they're trying to have a meaningful class discussion.

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cinephile
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby cinephile » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:55 pm

It depends. I think it's great for those hypos that could go either way. It really forces you to think about the arguments and develop your answer in response to what the other side might say.

071816
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby 071816 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:56 pm

Entirely dependent on the prof.

071816
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby 071816 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:57 pm

beachbum wrote:One class period I was cold-called for over an hour


:shock:

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Bronte
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby Bronte » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:59 pm

The best professors use a hybrid lecture/socratic method. They explain concepts from scratch and use the socratic method to keep people engaged.

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beachbum
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby beachbum » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:39 pm

chimp wrote:
beachbum wrote:One class period I was cold-called for over an hour


:shock:


Yeah, it was about as shitty as you can imagine. I knew it was coming (it was a long case, and class had ended halfway through my cold-call in the previous day's class), but there's still a certain "fuck me sideways" feeling you get when you're grilled for almost an entire class period.

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NYC Law
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby NYC Law » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:43 pm

beachbum wrote:
chimp wrote:
beachbum wrote:One class period I was cold-called for over an hour


:shock:


Yeah, it was about as shitty as you can imagine. I knew it was coming (it was a long case, and class had ended halfway through my cold-call in the previous day's class), but there's still a certain "fuck me sideways" feeling you get when you're grilled for almost an entire class period.


I think in that instance I would just start making things up/bumbling around so the professor gets aggravated and calls on someone else.

Heck, in my torts class the professor asked me two consecutive questions and I said it was the girl next to me's turn. Kind of fucked up of me to do that in retrospect, but I didn't think of that, and just wasn't feeling it that day (I never am).

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ahduth
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby ahduth » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:56 pm

beachbum wrote:
chimp wrote:
beachbum wrote:One class period I was cold-called for over an hour


:shock:


Yeah, it was about as shitty as you can imagine. I knew it was coming (it was a long case, and class had ended halfway through my cold-call in the previous day's class), but there's still a certain "fuck me sideways" feeling you get when you're grilled for almost an entire class period.


Lol, that's nothing - for Mullane in civ pro, our prof stuck with this one girl for three days straight.

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Detrox
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby Detrox » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:02 pm

Obviously the success of the method will depend to some extent on the professor, but I definitely know law students and professors who think that the method as a whole is without merit and simply a tradition that exists without any real advantages over standard lecturing. So my question was more aimed at getting all of your views about the system as a tool of teaching, seperate from the effectiveness with which some professors actually apply it. But it seems that in addition to myself at least a decent amount of people (given the tiny sample size), actually like the system and prefer it to straight lecturing (or some other form of teaching which I'm omitting).

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beachbum
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby beachbum » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:20 pm

ahduth wrote:
beachbum wrote:
chimp wrote:
beachbum wrote:One class period I was cold-called for over an hour


:shock:


Yeah, it was about as shitty as you can imagine. I knew it was coming (it was a long case, and class had ended halfway through my cold-call in the previous day's class), but there's still a certain "fuck me sideways" feeling you get when you're grilled for almost an entire class period.


Lol, that's nothing - for Mullane in civ pro, our prof stuck with this one girl for three days straight.


Yeah, that sucks. In this same contracts class, the prof cold-called one guy for over a week and stuck with him for the majority of each class period. But this was after he had been unprepared to talk about a case. And so now we use his name as a verb for getting fucked (and especially getting fucked in class).

zomginternets
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby zomginternets » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:43 pm

NYC Law wrote:I think in that instance I would just start making things up/bumbling around so the professor gets aggravated and calls on someone else.


I have a professor who just won't let you go, even if you obviously did not read the case and have no idea how to answer his questions. He'll get aggravated and pissed off but won't move on to anyone else.

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NYC Law
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby NYC Law » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:45 pm

zomginternets wrote:
NYC Law wrote:I think in that instance I would just start making things up/bumbling around so the professor gets aggravated and calls on someone else.


I have a professor who just won't let you go, even if you obviously did not read the case and have no idea how to answer his questions. He'll get aggravated and pissed off but won't move on to anyone else.


My professors are pretty chill. The other day he asked this guy:

Prof: "Mr. X, would you like to tell us about P v. D?"

Mr. X: "Nope"

Prof: "Okay, how about you Ms. Y?"

^ Really happened.

random5483
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby random5483 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:35 pm

The purpose of the socratic method is not to teach you the black letter law. Any good student should have no problem figuring out what the BLL is for any given subject. The socratic method, however, can expand the classes understanding of a given concept. On the other hand, a lecture only provides the class with the BLL or perhaps the professor's perspective.


The socratic method can be horrible if the professor does not know how to implement it. When done right, however, it works extremely well. It allows the professor to channel the discussion of various topics and helps the class start hear arguments from multiple perspectives. The socratic method is not a great way of teaching students the law. Rather, it is a very effective way of making students think like lawyers.


With that said, it really boils down to the professor. I have had my share of poor professors, and the socratic method is horrible when done poorly.

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Hippononymous
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby Hippononymous » Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:59 pm

My strategy has been to volunteer answers occasionally and raise my hand from time to time when I know I'm not going to get called on. Professors seem to want to call on people who don't want to talk. I don't necessarily want to talk (though it doesn't scare me), but if I make it seem like I do, I'm good. Haven't been cold-called yet. I'm crafty like that.

23402385985
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby 23402385985 » Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:49 pm

I get cold called on every single day in Civ Pro, but it's because my professor likes me and I get the material. Granted, he calls on about 35 kids each class (class of 60 or so), but I have yet to have a day where I am not called on in that class.

Every other class I try to volunteer every other class or so and I am never cold called on.

ajr
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby ajr » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:18 pm

chimp wrote:Entirely dependent on the prof.


And the students.

23402385985
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby 23402385985 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:11 pm

ajr wrote:
chimp wrote:Entirely dependent on the prof.


And the students.


I find that the more retarded the student, the more they are cold called (at least where I am at). Some of the profs even bypass the gunners just to go after the students they feel will be unprepared.

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rocon7383
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby rocon7383 » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:58 pm

a couple weeks ago i was cold called in contracts the one time i was unprepared. I was repeeeeatedly questioned by my professor, even though it was clear I wasn't that sharp on the issue. He even came back to me later on on something unrelated to, idk, rub it in? I know the final is anonymous, but is there any evidence that this sort of thing can really have a negative impact on your grade?

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saintsfan200
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby saintsfan200 » Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:58 pm

I only have one professor who uses the socratic method. Actually, I wish all of them did. It gets most people into focusing on briefing the cases heavily, and knowing needless facts. This works to your favor (hopefully) come exam time.

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NYC Law
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Re: Socratic Method

Postby NYC Law » Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:59 pm

rocon7383 wrote:a couple weeks ago i was cold called in contracts the one time i was unprepared. I was repeeeeatedly questioned by my professor, even though it was clear I wasn't that sharp on the issue. He even came back to me later on on something unrelated to, idk, rub it in? I know the final is anonymous, but is there any evidence that this sort of thing can really have a negative impact on your grade?


If you're particularly egregious in not having read anything multiple days in a row they can probably use it against your grade if they want to. Most professors have discretionary grade bump/de-bump abilities. I just think most don't use it unless you really stand out.




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