COSAM News Articles 2020 January COSAM Professor and Students Act Out Socratic Method

COSAM Professor and Students Act Out Socratic Method

Published: 01/21/2020

By: Maria Gebhardt

Students had an opportunity to dress up as if they were in ancient Greece and consult the Oracle in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM).

“In my calculus class, I wanted to elevate the student experience,” explained Dr. Luke Oeding. “Instead of reading about it or just listening to a lecture, students had an opportunity play out a Greek tragedy that was somewhere in between the Socratic Method, and a journey to visit the Oracle.”

Students wore togas and were divided into different parts including the cult of 42, the cult of zero, the cult of infinity, spokespersons, scribes, and Oracles. The students in the upper part of the lecture hall were part of the choir.

Each cult marched around Parker Hall to determine their strategy for consulting the Oracle. Then they met the Oracle. A spokesperson the cult of 42 asked questions to the Oracle to determine what might happen near 42 for some function that is only known to the Oracle. The scribe wrote the question and answer on the tablet (the chalkboard). As the questions continued and the spokesperson got closer and closer to asking about 42 (without actually inquiring directly about 42 itself), the choir cheered if the answers seemed to converge to a fixed number, and they booed if the answers seemed to get worse. The same pattern repeated for the cult of zero and the cult of infinity.

“I thought that acting out the concept of a limit would be much more fun introduction rather than just presenting the formal epsilon-delta definition. My hope is that the occasional use of these sorts of interactive activities will enhance learning for all of our students,” Dr. Oeding added.

After class, Bryan McHugh, who enthusiastically played the part of one of the Oracles said, “Thank you for letting me live out my dream of being an ancient Greek Oracle! This was amazing!”


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