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We’re Joking: How to Succeed in a Socratic Seminar

Last updated on April 22, 2021

February 2020

 The Socratic Seminar is an invaluable tool in any English teacher’s repertoire. These democratic discussions, however, are the source of much stress for students. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you succeed in your next seminar:

   1) Establish dominance early and often. If someone starts talking at the same time as you, glare at them, talk louder, or even better, let out an animalistic howl! This is sure to let them know they should not try to talk over you ever again.

   2) Prepare yourself beforehand. Of course, I don’t mean to take preposterous actions such as “reading the text so you understand what’s going on and appreciate a work of literature”. No, instead be sure to skim over the Sparknotes page and and/or copy your friend’s notes. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, read the Wikipedia page for the book. Even though the language might go over your head, it will totally make you sound smart and not like you plagiarized when you repeat it in class!

   3) Learn the subtle art of “drafting”. Instead of voicing your own thoughts, repeat what the person that talked before you said but word it slightly differently. This will ensure you get participation credit with minimal effort on your part. If your teacher tries to call you out on it, why not try your new “establishing dominance” techniques on them as well!

   And there you go! These points are sure to guarantee you success in your next Socratic Seminar. You can thank me later.

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