Unpopular Opinion: The Socratic Method Is the Best Way to Teach

If you have never heard of the Socratic method, it’s a method of teaching where teachers/professors “focus on giving students questions, not answers”, according to The Foundation for Critical Thinking. So basically, it’s the complete opposite of a typical college classroom. 

classrooom and students with a projector NeONBRAND on Unsplash When you think of a typical college class, you might think of sitting in a lecture hall for an hour, listening to your professor explain a topic from a projected slideshow. Or maybe there’s not even a slideshow, maybe the professor is just simply lecturing. You come in, sit down, take some notes (or go online shopping, whatever suits you best), and then leave. The professor might occasionally ask a question, and a few hands might occasionally be raised up to answer it. And that’s the whole class.

Personally, I have always found these types of classes the most comfortable to attend. This is because they don’t require much effort or participation. I don’t usually raise my hand in class, even if I know the answer to a question. Classes, where I blend in with the other students, make me feel more secure and at ease. As a result, my comprehension of the class material can be weak. Since I know that the professor will probably never call on me, I feel free to let my focus drift away from the class. Have you ever sat through a whole lecture, but left not knowing what on earth you just listened to? If your answer is yes - me too, many times.

Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio I took a Socratic style class for the first time this spring quarter, and it really opened my eyes to a new way of learning. It’s the first class, and the professor tells us that he will be using the Socratic method of teaching throughout the term. I tense up and immediately get flashbacks to the high school days where I would walk into a classroom and see the chairs placed in a circle, in preparation for the Socratic method. I always despised those classes because we were forced to ask each other questions for the whole time, and I hated speaking up. However, this time around it wasn’t like that.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this class was not dreadful at all. In fact, it was one of the most enjoyable classes I have had at Drexel so far. The professor rarely lectured, but instead pelted us with questions. Most of the time, the professor would randomly call on a student to answer. Sounds stressful? Well, it actually wasn’t. 

There are many positive aspects of the Socratic method that I learned from taking this course. It is reassuring to hear your fellow peers answer questions that they don’t really know the answer to. At the end of the day, there is no competition, and we are all just trying to learn the material together. Hearing what each and every one of my classmates was thinking, helped to distinguish the right answers from the wrong. By allowing us to try and answer a question first before revealing the answer, the professor helped us to exercise our creativity and strengthen our reasoning. It was also a great way to get to know my classmates as individuals, rather than just a sea of heads in a crowded lecture hall. 

The Lalagirl With Beanie Holding Book Up Her Campus Media I stayed focused for the entire class - a grand 2 hours! By never knowing when I was going to be randomly selected to answer a question, I was forced to pay attention the whole time. The material was very easy to remember, even days after the class was over. This is probably because my peers and I had to find the answer ourselves, rather than being handed the answer without any sort of thinking to do beforehand. 

Not only did I learn a lot of material from the course, but I also learned more about myself and what learning method works best for me. This experience put me out of my comfort zone by forcing me to speak up more, but I do not regret it one bit. So the next time you hear about a course that’s taught in the Socratic method and feel uneasy about it, challenge yourself and take it! You might just love it.