Bond University
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Article Title

The Socratic Method: Silencing Cooperation

Abstract

[Extract] Feminist law teachers in North America, as in Australia, have been grappling with the issue of the silencing of women students, and have added their voices to the growing chorus of criticism of the Socratic method. This paper tentatively explores the relationship between teaching styles and the silencing of women students in classrooms. The paper arises out of the experience of becoming a law student after being a law teacher for some eighteen months, and my subsequent return to the front of the classroom. In other words, as with much feminist work, this paper is grounded in my own experience, the experiences of my student colleagues that I observed and shared and in empirical work in and outside law classrooms. In other words, as with much feminist work, this paper is grounded in my own experience, the experiences of my student colleagues that I observed and shared and in empirical work in and outside law classrooms. I aim to explore various teaching styles and pose tentative views on the effect they may have on student behaviour, particularly student cooperation, both in the classroom and outside it. The other related aim of the paper is to raise specific questions about women’s participation in law school classrooms. In order to do this, I set up various ideal types, which may not necessarily reflect actual classroom practices in either North America or Australia, but are used as a shorthand way of exploring the effect of teaching styles.

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