Parody of Socratic Seminar

You, like everyone else, finish your assigned Socratic seminar questions minutes before class, typing the last few questions out, spelling errors and all.

You arrive to class 30 seconds late only to be greeted by the grinding of desk legs against the linoleum, the class melding the assortment of chairs into a boxy circle. Some students half-attempt the chair-melding so other, less burned-out students are forced to double-time the process.

For whatever reason, the teacher has set the lighting to 50%, so half of the class is plunged into darkness while the other half is haloed as if by the IB gods themselves.

Your teacher changes from aggressively nodding as if involuntarily spasming to stroking their chin with a perfect right angle. Their movements are characteristically robotic, much like the nothingness burped out by your classmates in this horrific destruction of 46 minutes.

Others tap their pencils against their desks like a Vietnam POW* tapping morse code for “T-O-R-T-U-R-E.” Students pull out their broken copies of Hugo Ball, a Dadaist* poet, and lumber into their chairs.

The need to affix the chairs to the desks so they may not be stolen or broken means that the leg room is proportioned for the nonexistent middle ground between abnormally tall and unseemly short. Everyone else suffers.

“Today we will be discussing excerpts from ‘Gadji Beri Bimba.’”

The teacher’s parched voice clangs against the students’ eardrums. Students exchange raised eyebrows, acknowledging the shared inside joke of pain they were all hip to. The joke was nothing and the pain was everything.

The teacher then asks a student to share a question and a couple of wise students, wanting to have their completion grade realized quickly, jump at the opportunity.

“How do the literary devices utilized in ‘Gadji Beri Bimba’ represent similar sentiments in Karl Marx’s ‘Das Kapital?’” one student shouts out.


Sounds came from the student, but no meaningful question was asked. Another student, desperate to be marked down as a conversation participant, launches into a long-winded discourse on Oxford commas in the two works.

You experience the Dantian purgatory between slumber and sentience as the marshmallowy, stale air caresses you to sleep. There is something oddly terrifying about falling forward asleep and jerking yourself awake.

You were about a foot from cracking your head open against the table, and yet you could not muster the energy necessary to stave off the social humiliation of an out-of-place nap. This is class.



*POW: Prisoner of war.

*Dadaism: An intellectual and artistic movement born as a reaction to the horrors of World War I. Its sentiments were predicated on a lack of meaning as an imitation of the pointlessness of WWI.