Monday, June 11, 2012

Pedagogy Non-Haiku

Beware those teaching jobs that require use of the Socratic Method.
They would have you believe you will get in trouble for NOT using it.
And you get called out for not using it, especially if they are worried that the feds will yank the grant.

But then the Socratic Method pisses students off.
And when students get pissed, they complain to a superior.
And then you get in trouble.

All roads lead to Rome.


  1. Any teaching of any kind annoys the students, it's not that they would prefer any other method. Sage on a stage, guide by the side, it's all the same to the fellow who hates calculus.

  2. In the Apology of Plato, when the Athenians accuse Socrates of sorcery, his defense is that he never taught natural science or mathematics, EMH. Sometimes, you just need to tell people who don't know doodley-squat what's what.

  3. The Socratic method works. Tea-party'em.

    1. I know it does. I'm not intending to diss the method in my post.

      It's just ironic when you are given SPECIFIC instructions for something only to be reprimanded both for following them and not following them.


    2. Does it really now? I suppose it did for Socrates, but then I doubt he ever had to teach a class of over 100, and his students didn't snivel that you were "embarrassing" them by calling on them when they didn't have their hands raised.

  4. Ever been to one of those endless staff development meetings where an expert tells us that "most inefficient way of delivering information is through a lecture" because only 31.7 percent (or some similar made-up number) of what's received in a lecture is retained x days later? So we all need to access students' visual or kinesthetic learning styles?

    And the whole presentation is done by . . . lecture?

    1. Lectures ARE visual and kinesthetic.

      visual - seeing the instructor working out a problem.

      kinesthetic - taking notes.

      Am I oversimplifying things here?

    2. So that's what I've been doing wrong: I thought kinesthetic included interpretative dance.

    3. DrBPD ... don't laugh .. that is what I was also taught and I had the chance to put it to the test.

      Earlier in my career, I had the opportunity to teach at one of those hybrid academic/performing arts schools. (Think Fame without the, oh, talent!)

      Anywhoo ... as the students literally were studying interpretive dance, I half kiddingly suggested to the Dance Master that students create an interpretive dance to convey a concept in Hamster Fur Weaving.

      Pedagogy was never shut down so hard or fast as it was in that moment, accomplished by nothing more than a withering stare. I have always been highly skeptical about multiple intelligence or learning styles or whatever edu-faddy name de jour -- but the experience with the Dance Master pretty concretely settled the issue but good.

  5. EMH--you've clearly been spared the "multiple learning styles" crap. If I remember right, they're visual, aural, and kinesthetic, but whatever they are, school is mostly all about reading and writing.

  6. Wear a loud tie (visual), shout at them (aural), and force them to take off their headphones (kinesthetic), and you've pretty much got the various learning styles covered.

  7. But all right, never mind arguing about what-would-Socrates-do. I've been through a quite similar logical conundrum with standards.

    The university says it prides itself on its high standards, but when students start flunking, they admonish you to "make it easier" for them. So you ask whether this isn't "dumbing it down." They adamantly insist, "NO! Don't dumb it down!"

    It's easier to understand this behavior if you realize that they don't know what they want. Many administrators haven't taught a class in years, if ever. So, what they want tends to be whatever is expedient, at that moment, for whatever purpose suits them, just then. They don't really think much about it.

    And of course, if you want to join the People's Front of Judea, you've got to REALLY hate the Romans! Romanes eunt domus!

    (Messiam non est.)

  8. Of course a way to apply the Socratic method would be to ask the students on the first day what an icosahedron is and, when they answer with an empty stare, and then apply Socrates' "Let no one enter who doesn't know geometry" rule.


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