The Radish’s Socratic Seminar DOs and DON’Ts


Sarah Tachau

As someone with a passion for insulting the opinions of my classmates, there is nothing I love more than a good Socratic Seminar. However, small group discussion etiquette is in need of revitalization, and the Radish is here to do it. The following are the dos and don’ts at the round (or square, in the case of a Socratic Seminar) table.


Interrupt your peers

  • Contrary to popular belief, you are the smartest person at the Socratic Seminar table. Besides, your quote from The Great Gatsby has never been read aloud before, and it is your duty to honor Fitzgerald by asserting your interpretation over the conversation of your peers.

Start rapping your analysis

  • Drawn out discussions can get boring, so take advantage of the opportunity to bring some bars to the table.

Fist fight anyone who disagrees with you

  • Remember, you know the most here. Don’t let yourself be publicly humiliated by somebody who thinks you analyzed a quote wrong. Your words are not your best weapon, your fists are. 

Recite half your comments in Ancient Greek

  • Keep everybody on their toes. God forbid they read the wrong book.

Bribe the people who haven’t spoken halfway through

  • The formal discussion isn’t for everybody, but you need those collaboration points, so it can’t hurt to slip the quiet kid a twenty.

Bring your polaroid

  • No phones at the table, but these are memories being made.

Recite your remaining research as a dramatic monologue in the last two minutes

  • You would be a fool to let that hard work go to waste.


Spew out WWI or WWII facts

  • We know you’re a history buff, but now really isn’t the time.

“You’re wrong”

  • We actually aren’t against this one, it just isn’t original. Instead, try saying something like, “You sound pretentious and your breath smells,” or, “It’s super embarrassing that you spent all that time researching false information.”

Reenact a scene from the book

  • Not to insult your acting skills, but the book is always better than the movie.

Bring fruitcake

  • Specifically for Round Table discussions or Coffeehouses. It’s just a gross snack and everybody will hate you for it.

Communicate in morse code to the person next to you

  • There’s a better chance they know sign language

Respond to the assigned prompt

  • Take a lesson or two from your history teacher and go on a tangent instead

In the circle of desks, your life’s on the line. One mistake and your high school career is in shambles. Speak assertively, and this discussion will be your moment of glory.