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Author Topic: Socrtaic Method an act of scholarly mischief?  (Read 6532 times)

Mina

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Socrtaic Method an act of scholarly mischief?
« on: January 16, 2008, 12:02:19 AM »
I've reasoned that the socratic method, when concentrated, is purposely used by a professor to mislead his or her students.

Here is my logic:
(1) A socratic question neither declares nor clearly reveals.

(2) There are myriad of "correct" answers to the question--which can be either true or false (i.e. factual or absurdly detached from reality--e.g. hypoz).

[assumption #1: the question is never concerned with what the answer is, but that there is an answer]

(3) any answer will be used agst the student, i.e. verbal judo, via ad absurdum to cause an internal contradiction in logic. (Socrates himself did this, see Euthyphyro)

(4) Any question stopping or perfect answer, will cause a subject change, or over-abstraction leading to unrealistic or counter-intuitive results. [verbal-judo 2]

(5) It is impossible to test Law Students on final eam via Socratic dialogue. 

[assumption # 2 is that arguing in lawyerly fashion, that is via dialectic, is not socratic but simply analyzing meritable counter-objections based on the course's law]

Therefore, Socratic reasoning confuses students by starting with a question that will knowingly lead to an error, & then replacing that error with another (i.e. another question.)   

[ assumption # 3: a question that has no perfect answer, or cannot have one, will always have an erroneous answer regardless]

[assumption # 4: using a method that will confuse students on purpose is professor mischief]

My theory: professor's are there to help, law is a confusing matter as is, they should present diagrams, give us the context of the case, & suggest prominent theories or how a modern day lawyer/judge would think about this. further, they should be preparing us for the final exam, instead of getting us to try & learn specifics of every case--to withstand socratic torture--they should be providing us with clarity on the big picture, not detail-focused confusion or Socratic rubbish to fill their own egos, or make them appear smarter or the subject matter more complex than is or will become.


"The oracle of Delphi neither feels nor reveals, but gives a sign" --Heraclitus.
One may be tempted to equate "Socratic" professors with the ancient Oracle, all they're missing is a high-chair & sacrifice--they already have the prestige.

open to critiques/concurrences--M.

 

 

resipsaloquitur

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Re: Socrtaic Method an act of scholarly mischief?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2008, 02:13:52 AM »
I have a particularly tricky professor who actively leads students down the wrong path... the point is not to fall for it, we should challenge his statements and presumptions, call him out for irrelevant questions, and use the law with the facts to back yourself up.

It doesn't make sense for the professors to spoon feed students the answers. There aren't really answers to give anyway... a lot of the cases in the casebooks can be argued well against the majority opinion.

There are supplements that can give you diagrams and the trends in the law. You don't need the professor for that.

Think bigger than the exams. Think about your future practice. If you can't find the law in a case, can't think about the law and how it applies, can't argue against opposing counsel, then you are going to have a tough time out there.

I get frustrated with the process too, especially when you get those questions where you don't even understand what the prof is asking. No doubt there are professors out there that abuse it, but as a teaching method, I think it can be really helpful.

I have more problems with the way exams work (and how much they can really gauge your abilities as a future lawyer) than with Socratic method in class.   

LVP

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Re: Socrtaic Method an act of scholarly mischief?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2008, 10:43:52 PM »
(5) It is impossible to test Law Students on final eam via Socratic dialogue. 


Literally, you are right.  But by internalizing Socratic dialogue, you become better at finding strengths and probing weaknesses in all arguments on all sides of a given issue.  And that's something that many professors do look for on final exams.

Sure, you'll get a point by identifying detrimental reliance as one of the elements of promissory estoppel.  But you'll get a lot more points by telling the prof all the reasons why there was detrimental reliance, and then telling him all the reasons why there wasn't.  At least, with some profs.
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LegalMatters

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Re: Socrtaic Method an act of scholarly mischief?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2008, 01:41:48 PM »
I think you just have to take it for what it is: Discussion. Socrates used the method as a way to isolate where personal knowledge and where the individual has to continue to seek the knowledge for himself. Well, we don't live in those times anymore but the point is to ask a student questions until she runs out of answers, then ask another student, and another student. The questions are designed to get students to look at the issues involved and the smaller sub-issues in a new way.

I can't tell you how many times I walked into Contracts last semester, thinking I knew the case cold, and the professor started the Socratic method which brought me to see the case in a completely different way. Or, I was confused in the first. Ain't no shame I guess.

..................................1

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Re: Socrtaic Method an act of scholarly mischief?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2008, 09:41:43 AM »
tag

Jerrry

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Re: Socrtaic Method an act of scholarly mischief?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2008, 03:32:50 PM »
The socratic method is arguably the best method teaching, reason being that it leads to a conversation between the prof or lecturer and the student. At the end of the conversation a reasonanble student should then realise that the law is a rule that should be followed not a question of maybe something is right or wrong.
Nothing is good or bad, thinking makes it so.

PaleForce

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Re: Socrtaic Method an act of scholarly mischief?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2008, 05:57:15 PM »
Mina, I understand what you're saying about the Socratic Method.  But, have you ever read Plato's Republic?  It pretty clearly shows how useful (and, yes, painful) it is.  That's assuming that it's used correctly.  Interesting theory, though!

martincmm

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Re: Socrtaic Method an act of scholarly mischief?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2009, 12:43:59 PM »
The socratic method is arguably the best method teaching, reason being that it leads to a conversation between the prof or lecturer and the student. At the end of the conversation a reasonanble student should then realise that the law is a rule that should be followed not a question of maybe something is right or wrong.

I couldn't disagree more.  In my opinion, it's such a poor form of learning.  I suppose it has some room to be used on a limited basis during the class room, but not dominate the discussion.  A combination of socratic method, lecture, and student participation is a better approach.  Just my two cents.