‘Wednesday Night Live’: Socratic Method, Entertainment, and Deep Life Questions at room PA102

By Roman PAVLYUCHENKO, 4th year PhD Student in Marketing at ESSEC.

Roman taught for the first time the course Principles of Marketing in the ESSEC Global BBA program.

How was your experience? Did you enjoy it?

Loved it!

How did you prepare?

I read the textbook, and I read the slides prepared by the course administrator. And then, reflected on how every aspect can be ‘spiced up’ from my own research experience.

What tools or teaching methods did you use? ( Kahoo, Beekast, cases, …)

I relied heavily on the Socratic Method. I started by saying that ‘Marketing is not rocket science’, and I saw my job not as much as teaching, but sensitizing my students to what they already know, but not attempt to systematize. I also used as many examples and case studies as possible, keeping them as relevant and up-to-date as possible.

What did you learn about teaching that you wish you knew before entering the classroom?

I wish I knew that it is much less stressful as it is often portrayed. It is your expertise in your subject matter that makes it work. I was nervous before my first lecture, but the moment I started talking, I realized, ‘OK, this is what the last 3 years of my life have been about. Surely I can say a few words about that?’

How does teaching complement your work as a Phd student researcher?

First, as a way to relax myself and get away from the ‘publish or perish’ realities of our field. To spend three hours a week in front of a crowd of young people excited to hear about what you have to say has been extremely affirming. Second, and surprisingly, teaching was a great way to come up with new research questions. Talking through your content proved to be an extremely useful way to see what you know, and crucially, what you do not. And, sometimes the students would push hard against some ideas, especially as far as digital consumption is concerned, which offered a great pathway for identifying some of the ‘unspoken assumptions’ we might have as marketing educators.

Any advice to future students teaching for the first time?

1) Do not be afraid.

2) Be funny and entertaining.

3) Establish the rules soon (i.e. ‘being late’ policy, ‘talking over’ policy, etc.), and enforce them soon also (preferably in the very first lecture). 

4) Be there when students need you. Some of my most rewarding exchanges occurred before and/or after class. 

5) Be a mentor. This is especially crucial for early-curriculum courses like mine. Arguably, most freshmen students at ESSEC do not have a clear idea of what they want to be in 4 years (and after). They do not have the ‘taste’ for business stuff yet. So, try and help as much as you can. I shared business news, internship advice, exchange recommendations, and the like.

6) Give them a (big) chance to speak. They are the marketers (financiers/managers/auditors/consultants/etc.) of tomorrow. You shape their world as much as they are going to shape yours in a matter of a few years. So, listen carefully!