Before coming to law school, everyone is warned of the Socratic method as just one of the fundamental reasons law school is a drag. I have, myself, wondered to what extent the maintenance of this method is a form of self-perpetuating hazing, or whether its tried & trueness will, in fact, shine through in the end. As a law student, I have struggled with the merits of a constant Q&A between demigod professor and mere mortal students. At times, I yearn for a more straight-forward lecture (of the undergraduate variety) and I grow weary of this tiring game.
I have run the precarious gamut of the on-call experience: I have been on-call and not known the right answer. I have been on-call and thought I knew the right answer, only to find out that I was wrong. I have been frustrated with others when they don’t know the right answer. I have been thankful when I dodge the getting-called-on bullet. And, I have also noticed the catch-22 of being “on-call.” Knowing the answer seems an absolute bar to hearing, “Miss Gutierrez, what do you think?” Whereas my disinterest and uncertainty seem to guarantee this utterance.
For my own peace of mind, I have realized two things about being on-call:
- Not knowing the exact answer is the point. As Socrates once said, “I know that I know nothing.” The point of the long-drawn out inquisitive banter is the means, not the end. As we have seen, the holding in a case isn’t even necessarily the “right answer.”
- Go easy on yourself and be patient with your fellow students. In the words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan…’til they get punched in the face!” When it comes to being on-call, it is much easier to watch and see where the professor is going than it is to answer on the spot (which may be further proof that the method is working).
After a brutal on-call moment today, I will take some solace in the fact that I am a bit wiser. Today, I am closer to Socrates than I was yesterday. Today, I am wise enough to know than I know nothing at all! For those of you who also don’t know the answer, please join me in this marvelous revelation: we’re in good company.