5 Stages of Grief: Socratic Seminar Edition

Emma Chrismer (283), Seminar Slacker

Every Central student has heard the terrifying declaration, ¨and we will have a Socratic seminar on chapters two, three, and four on Thursday!¨ Following that iconic, yet haunting phrase, comes the five stages of socratic seminar grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 


It is the end of the class period in your English class, and just as you think there is no homework, your sadistic teacher drops the bomb on you that a Socratic seminar is just three days away. In an instant, the class wakes up, as if an alarm clock was blaring. A choir of students begin to sing, begging the teacher to move it, begging for an essay as a supplement, begging for anything, but the harsh reality. 

Denial. The first stage. You and your classmates are quick to attempt to go numb instead of facing the facts. But, the mask cannot stay on for long. The feelings, being suppressed, must come to the surface, the procrastination must end, and all this begins the next stage: anger.


Unfortunately, ignoring the problem at hand doesn’t work for too long. The first step in preparing for the dreadful task of a Socratic seminar, is to read every last word of the book or writing piece – even the acknowledgments and references – and you cannot forget about the publication information. You flip through, page by page, almost as if you are trying to absorb the ink of the page. In your attempts to inhale every last detail, the note taking begins. Google Docs are opened and bulleted lists are carefully crafted with every last motif, symbol, or piece of figurative language being written down. Every page turned and key pressed, is done in a fury, almost as if you are engulfed by rage. During this stage, you experience a sort of emotional tenderness that you seek to release, but it just comes blotted out in an array of sticky notes and quotes. 


In a sort of last resort, the bargaining begins about two days before the seminar. Floods of students will beg their teacher to not collect notes, or require them to say more than two quotes, or simply just grade off of participation. Students attempt to bargain with anyone from the teacher to a higher power. Half of the class becomes religious just to pray for their grades, ¨Please God; let me have the strength to make it through this seminar, and please God, have the strength to look past my poor wording and give me an A.¨  Alas, the constant bugging of the teacher does nothing for you, of course. You walk out of class more defeated than when you came in, ready for the depressing day and night of preparation and anxiety ahead. 


Although the hardest and saddest stage of Socratic seminar grief, the depression stage is what brings the class together. It all begins the night before, when one brave, yet unprepared, soul asks for someone to send their notes. Quickly, the side group chats start up. Small friend groups create large communal Google Docs, quotes are shared, and questions are answered. However, a cloud of despair gathers as well. 

This phase is always the longest, most notably known for the handful of anxiety dreams it brings you that night, not to mention the hooded heads walking around the school the day of. But when time comes to talk with the class, most students are ready to make drawn out and exaggerated connections to earn whatever little points they can. 


The grueling 53 minutes of the class period had gone by as slow as humanly possible. But it is over now. You walk out of the class, almost in a haze, talking to your classmates and discussing what went right or wrong. Nonetheless, it’s over. You have finally accepted reality, and you did it. There is a brief period of tranquility, as you have reached the final stage of acceptance. 

But, the moment doesn’t last for long. In about thirty minutes you will remember that this was for a grade and the five stages will start right back up again!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s