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Author Topic: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?  (Read 6340 times)

Wildflower

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I kinda' like the Socratic method. I feel it really makes me think and figure things out....probably the reason it is used?

I just don't want to spend the first day of law school making out with the 'porcelain throne' (I have watched the Paper Chase too many times~ :o)

Do you like the Socratic method and is it still widely used?

Alamss

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Re: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2005, 07:14:20 PM »
Thats about the only thing that intimidates me about law school. But honestly I think it works because whenever I have taken seminar classes where we had to talk a lot and present material I always studied up like crazy so I wouldn't be caught offgaurd and so I could participate well. I know I will be really studying up and trying to understand concepts in law partly because its not just that, well I need to do well to get a good job, but then I can just study good for the other class or next semester and make up for the slack in this class or this semester. The pressure of 'study now' is always there because there is always the real possiblity that today will be the day you will be grilled.

lawpreparation

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Re: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2005, 07:49:07 PM »
What exactly is the Socratic method?  Asking questions? 

Why do I hear so much fearful talk of the Socratic method in law school?

What happens if you just say, "I don't know?" 

I don't really expect experienced answers, but I am very interested in the perceived fears (whether they are true of not). 

Jumboshrimps

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Re: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2005, 07:58:42 PM »
True Socratic Method means the prof only asks questions. When a student gives an answer, another question follows, etc. There are no answers.

The Socratic Method is one of the main reasons I'm going to law school. I can find the answers myself; I don't need a person for that. I just need someone to fire up my natural curiosity in the right direction. I think that's what learning and teaching is supposed to be, and that's what the Socratic Method is.

I don't see anything scary about it at all- unless the prospect of having to think is frightening to some people ???

The only thing that scares ME about LS is getting and staying organized, which has never been my strong point.

RedLeg

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Re: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2005, 08:10:33 PM »
My experience is limited to an undergraduate course in procedural law where the instructor used the Socratic method. It was definitely an effective tool for teaching critical thinking skills.

If you are only comfortable in structured lectures where all you do is copy down notes from power-point presentations, not so good for you. However if you are a person who sits in class and always feels like you know the next thing your professor is going to blurt out, you might be at home. Instead of the professor giving you all the answers, you are expected to find them yourself.

You aren't expected to have all the right answers, what is important rather is that you can construct a coherent and logically valid argument from precedent and statutory law. In fact what is "legally" correct is open to a matter interpretation.

thebengalgent

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Re: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2005, 08:14:11 PM »
To get a very good idea on what the Socratic Method is, read the master himself.  Here is the dialogue from "Euthyphro", where Socrates is trying to get Euthyphro to explain the meaning of piety:


http://eawc.evansville.edu/anthology/euthyphro.htm


It should take you no more than ten minutes to read, but you'll come away with a good idea of what the method is.  Now, imagine this with law profs, some hard-assed, some not, discussing the intricacies of cases.  Fun, huh?

theo

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Re: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2005, 08:14:55 PM »
What exactly is the Socratic method?  Asking questions? 

Why do I hear so much fearful talk of the Socratic method in law school?

What happens if you just say, "I don't know?" 

I don't really expect experienced answers, but I am very interested in the perceived fears (whether they are true of not). 


The Socratic Method scares people because

- it's completely new and bizarre to most people; there's no one answer that you can give the professor that can force him/her to stop quizzing you, he'll just alter the facts a bit and ask how the case would have come out in light of the changed facts - it becomes a matter of whenever the prof decides to move on, either because you have done satisfactorily, or because further probing is just a waste of the class' time, since you are being thick-headed

- it's almost impossible to feel adequately prepared

- your intellect + level of preparation + quick-wittedness are simultaneously on display in front of dozens of rivals, some of whom you may feel are not rooting for you...

- if you admit to being unprepared, your professor will likely call you aside after class and warn you to be damn well prepared next time

- some professors never announce when your turn will be, thus forcing you to prepare your ass off each class until your turn finally arrives, which may be at the end of the term - that's brutal.


Here's a capsule summary from Princeton Review:

http://www.princetonreview.com/law/research/articles/life/socratic.asp

<<<<<<
The Socratic Method 
 
As unfamiliar as the case method will be to most 1Ls, the real source of anxiety is the way the professor presents it. Simply put, Socratic instruction entails directed questioning and limited lecturing. There are law professors who are alleged to have gone an entire semester without uttering a declarative statement. Though the Socratic Method has passed out of vogue in the last decade, it remains a common instruction style in many law schools. The case method already places a dizzying burden on a 1L, but when combined with the Socratic Method, it leaves many feeling helpless.   
 
How it Works
Generally, the Socratic professor invites a student to attempt a cogent summary of a case assigned for that day's class. Regardless of the accuracy and thoroughness of the student's initial response, he or she is then grilled on details overlooked or issues unresolved. A professor will often manipulate the facts of the actual case at hand into a hypothetical case that may or may not have demanded a different decision by the court.
 
At its best, this approach forces a reasonably well-prepared student to go beyond the immediately apparent issues in a given case to consider its broader implications. The dialogue between the effective Socratic instructor and his victim-of- the-moment will also force non-participating students to question their underlying assumptions of the case under discussion. It also hones the law student's critical reasoning skills and prepares her to litigate before tough judges.

At its worst, the Socratic Method subjects an unprepared student to ruthless scrutiny and fosters an unhealthy adversarial relationship between an instructor and his students.
 
This article was excerpted from Best Law Schools, 1999 Edition, by Ian Van Tuyl.
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Wildflower

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Re: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2005, 11:41:15 PM »
Alrighty then!! Sounds like fun! :o >:(

underwhelm

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Re: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2005, 11:51:59 PM »
Socrates was an ass. He argued with sycophants, that's why things always turned out where he wanted. Or at least that's how Plato portrays it. The Method, as it pertains to Socrates himself, is a joke.

Which isn't to say it isn't a useful pedagogical device. But if it is, it's in spite of Socrates rather than because of him.

Just keep that in mind if the method ever gets under your skin.

lawbuddy

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Re: Besides what we will do once we get in, how about the Socratic method?
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2005, 04:49:21 AM »
Personally, I think the Socratic method is hot.  It's the kinda thing that'd really excite me about class.  I always hated lectures, and would more often than not have a hard time either refraining from blurting out answers or losing focus of what was going on.

Having a teacher as someone to really question your knowledge, and attack your idea set from angles you probably hadn't considered makes me almost tingle.  I love the idea of a good challenge, and I can't imagine what techniques you can learn regarding critical thinking simply from the questions which your professors ask of you.

I'm gonna be so stoked to get into law school.