Category Archives: Navigating Legal Education
Recently I was talking with some of my colleagues, discussing the need to empower students to make informed decisions about how to best pursue their legal education. And my colleagues expressed surprise at my belief that students need to be empowered. So I started to examine the basis for my assumption.
This set of thoughts just came together for me this morning, so forgive me if they are as yet poorly formed.
In addition to the techniques mentioned in my last blog post, law professors looking to increase student engagement might also consider the following: after completing a socratic dialogue with one student, ask all of your students to take a moment and reflect on what they think they were supposed to learn from the exercise.
This technique—asking students to consider and articulate learning objectives—can be used in conjunction with any type of exercise, including socratic dialogue. It keep us on our toes by requiring that we be clear about why we are using certain teaching methods, and pushes students to think about and recognize how they are supposed to be learning in law school. If we believe that we are teaching students to “think like a lawyer,” is that in fact what they are perceiving and experiencing?
I have sat in the back of the classrooms of accomplished, engaging, beloved law professors who routinely receive excellent student evaluations, and watched as 70% of their students turn unceremoniously away from their notes, instead perusing gmail, ESPN, and Zappos during class. Not for the whole class, and not during the portions of class where the professor is lecturing. Instead, laptop screens flip en masse at one, distinct moment: when the professor is engaging another student in socratic dialogue.
Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together: Student Loan Debt and the Debate Over the Value of Scholarship
Everyone knows that the level of debt imposed on law school graduates is unconscionable. (They might not use that exact term, but I will.) Everyone also knows that there has been considerable, sustained debate over the value of the scholarship produced by law faculties. (See related post at https://susannahpollvogt.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/law-schools-law-professors-scholarship-andversus-teaching/.)