The following presents a case for videos against the Socratic Method. Whether the Socratic Method is the same as self discovery or constructivist teaching is another issue.
It is said that Cauchy’s engineering students rejected his concepts based calculus. Just give us the rules. The “Dean” had to talk to him about it? Down with calculus concepts, just tell us the rules.
Law students dislike the Socratic method. Only the professor wins is how Ralph Nader describes it.
Law students buy law prof tapes that are pure procedural rules. No Socratics. These are as popular with law students as Khan Academy videos. Just the answers. None of the overhead of the bullying professor.
At one blog or some place I saw the comment that engineering profs teach their own math courses because they don’t want to slow them down with proofs.
Sal Khan is the opposite of Professor Kingsfield.
The Socratic Method bullying method.
A student who is unsure of their prior knowledge can have their confidence and enthusiasm destroyed by bullying from a professor. This can knock them out of science or engineering or law.
The Socratic Method is not used at Chicago to intimidate, nor to “break down” new law students,
Like Frodo on Weathertop, there are some wounds that never fully heal. Professor Kagan massacred me intellectually, and brutalized my pride. I got some form of a B in her class (I honestly don’t remember if there was a modifier — I’ve tried to suppress those memories). Kagan was a frightening professor for those who wanted to match wits with the brightest legal minds in the world. For people like me, people who just wanted to get through law school with minimal mental damage, Kagan was nothing short of terrifying.
Kagan v. Khan
Kagan the Merciless v Khan the Mistake Prone
You choose. 99 percent will choose one way.
BLITZER: Professor Stone, you were with her at the University of Chicago. What impressed you?
GEOFFREY STONE, WAS KAGAN’S DEAN AT UNIV. OF CHICAGO: Well, Elena is smart. She’s tough-minded. She’s independent. She was a spectacular teacher.
Right from the get-go when she begun as an assistant professor, she enlivened the students. She used Socratic methods in a very demanding way. She demonstrated real wit. And she was a terrific. I think Elena is a great lawyer and I think she’d be a terrific Supreme Court.
Wed, 05/12/2010 – 11:32am — bfleming
Colorado law prof Paul Campos continues to think Kagan is an awful selection. Quoting a long passage from Above the Law (from a former student), Campos argues her vigorous use of the Socratic method is especially problematic:
That method was (is) a horribly ineffective way to transmit substantive knowledge. If educational theorists agree on one thing it’s that pedagogical terrorism doesn’t work — assuming the point of the exercise is for people to actually learn what you’re claiming to teach them. But of course as critics have been pointing out for many decades now, that was never the real point. …
… Indeed that’s what the classic Socratic “method” is all about — it’s a performance designed to demonstrate that the performer is In Charge Here and a Very Serious Person who you had best defer to if you know what’s good for you. In short, it’s authoritarianism at its most straightforward and distasteful — and anyone who currently practices it in 180-proof form in an American law school at this late date should be viewed with suspicion: not merely as an educator, but in terms of that person’s fundamental orientation towards hierarchy, authority, and social power. Which is another way of saying, in terms of her politics.
There are real reasons that procedural videos are popular with students. There is also real opposition to the Socratic Method’s use as a classroom method. Ignoring this, ignores the debate. Moreover, it is the job of college professors of math education to study this. There has to be balance so that classrooms that are self discovery don’t turn into bullying zones.
If the Dean at the University of Chicago Law School will cover up for bullying parading as teaching, then that means students are not protected by administrators. If a Supreme Court justice can’t be trusted in the classroom not to bully unmercifully, and deans cover it up, it shows students are at risk from it. This is a real issue that both schools and college programs of education have a responsibility to address and study. A profession policies its own. That is the basis of being given deference. Are teachers doing that in the constructivist and self discovery method?