Socratic seminars... grrr
by, 15th November 2012 at 09:49 PM (287 Views)
What is the point of them? This is the second one we've had in language arts. This one was in preparation for [I]Julius Caesar[/I], we had eight quotes and we had to discuss what we thought of them. Things like "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" and "A virtue can also be a flaw". And we spent 10 minutes on every topic, discussing and stuff. And it would have probably been a good experience... if I had actually been paying attention to what my classmates were saying. See, we're graded on participation in the fishbowl. The more you say, the better grade you get. So I was totally concentrated, not on the content of what others were saying, but on the exact time when they stopped so I could jump in with some BS before anyone else had a chance to speak. And I could tell by the stressed looks on everyone's faces that most of them were doing the same thing.
I still don't understand why we have to do them. The quotes were debatable, and the arguments for whether people agreed or disagreed were all valid. No one's opinion was actually [I]changed[/I] by the discussion (it depends on your morals and values, pretty much), no one was paying attention to content, we were all blurting out stuff, trying to sound coherent, worrying about our grades and by how much they would go down.
The class was split in half. The first half talked about half of the prompts, and the second half talked about the last four. You got to just sit and watch the one that you weren't in. There was a "hot seat", an observer could sit on it and participate briefly if they had something to say. I did go to the hot seat this fishbowl, because I really wanted a better grade, and the more you speak, the better... and I said something along the lines of this (they were talking about virtues and weaknesses and someone said that virtues can't be weaknesses, it's an oxymoron):
"A virtue can easily be a weakness. It doesn't necessarily have to be paradoxical like how you guys are saying. And I thought of a good example just now: all the people in this fishbowl that aren't participating as much. They can be viewed as good listeners, kind, considerate, patient, they care about what their classmates have to say... but they're getting lower grades right now."
It was meant to be a stab at our teacher, who made up this horrible grading system that works for the class blabbermouths so well, but sucks for quiet people like me. I think it worked, because he was staring at me after the fishbowl was over. Who cares, I have a 96% in his class, I can afford a beating...but there are plenty of my friends who don't have that buffer.
tl;dr: Socratic/fishbowl seminars suck.
I'm done. Sorry. :P