The Socratic Method

Sometimes the Socratic method is just downright brutal to watch. I’ve never been called on when I hadn’t done the reading or been prepared (thank goodness), but lately I’ve noticed more and more classmates getting the unlucky call. Now, I’m not putting myself on a pedestal saying I’ll never mess up or never be unprepared for a class but so far, I’ve been lucky. I’ve started to notice there are a few different types of students who get called on and watching them get through it is heartbreaking.

1. “I’m unprepared”


Alright, I understand being unprepared for class. I really do. I just don’t understand why there is no attempt to even try. Pull up a brief online, look over notes from last class, ANYTHING! As soon as “I’m not prepared” comes out of someone’s mouth, I instantly see the look of regret on their face because they know the professor is not going to be happy.

2. “I don’t know the answer to that”


These are the students who flat out admit they have NO idea how to answer a question. I do give them a ton of credit for admitting they are as clueless as the rest of the class. Some professors move on and it’s no big deal, some lead them in the right direction. The worse are the professors who say “I don’t care give me an answer anyway”. That’s when it gets difficult to watch.

3. “Well, I’m not sure if this is right…”


So basically, you didn’t read or you didn’t understand. Alright no big deal. But watching this person struggle through BS just to attempt to get to the answer the professor wants makes me nervous. Legitimately, makes me nervous. I feel like I’m good at BSing my way through things usually but these students are courageous.

4. Silence

This is hands down the absolute WORSE and I can’t even find a picture to capture how insanely nervous and upset this makes me. I’ve only seen this once but it was so heartbreaking because you can tell the person knows the answer but just can’t seem to formulate it correctly so instead of throwing together random words and sounding like they are reading from a word jumble, it’s just silence.

I know my day of being subjected to a longer Socratic method than two questions is coming. I’m starting to get really nervous that I haven’t had a complete fail on things like this but I have to imagine this will be my reaction the first time I massively mess up:


You can’t be wrong

I’ve been in orientation (not real orientation, more of a “here’s how to be successful” orientation) for, oh, two days now and if there is one thing I’ve learned: no one expects you to be perfect. I’m a huge perfectionist and I still intend to do my absolute best but it is a huge relief to know that I can do a brief, come to class, have it be completely wrong, and NO ONE CARES! Not my professors, not my classmates, no one. As long as it’s corrected and I understand the concepts, I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to learn.

My second lesson has been the Socratic Method sucks. We’ve been exposed to it a few times and while I generally don’t mind it, I know I’ll screw up at some point. Apparently as long as you don’t do this, the world doesn’t come crashing down:


With any luck, I’ll be Socratic Method-ed on days where I 100% completely understood the case and rules. Ha, I doubt that will be ever.