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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
  Students Teaching Students : Here's the cold, hard view on law-student motivation: "So many people end up in law school by default" that the problem of unmotivated students will always be with us. "It's best to use it to your advantage" according to this view. "[S]o many students are unmotivated[] that an ounce of motivation gets you very far." (Thanks, to Hatch, sorely-needed and much-appreciated Siskal to our Ebert) (or, in blog terminology, Becker to our Posner)(*).

I will resist the temptation to agree. But not because I'm feigning an interest in the greater good. My desire to see more students become engaged is a selfish one. (Soon to become a moot one, as I'm graduating in two months).

This is my fourth year of law school, and almost everyone in my actual law school "class" has gone and 'lef me all lone. As I wander about the place I miss seeing the familiar faces of the 200-odd students with whom I went head-first through the wringer as a 1L. Even more than the group as a whole, I miss the handful of engaged students with whom I forged an intellectual connection during our three years together. I suspect that at law school we learn just as much if not more from our classmates as from our professors. Not for lack of trying on the professors' part. That's just the way it is--students teach each other.

But I want more more more. So I often wish that we law students would become a bit more engaged in our learning.

And I do think that the Law School, upon realizing that fact, could and should shape the learning environment by making changes to the curriculum in order take advantage of it.

*Read a number of his other provocative, if cynical, points in the comments here.
I've been thinking about your guys thoughts on changing the law school curriculum and the more I think about it, the more I realize I simply do not know what the answer is. For my part, I've got to say that I was pretty engaged my first year. Even first semester of my second year I remained engaged. But after that... not so much. Going to class, doing all of the assigned reading, for whatever reason did not hold its lsuter as it had before. What I am trying to figure out is why? Was it because professors stopped using the socratic method after my first year? Was it because I realized that basically once you have finished the first year and learned how to write an exam, that you really do not need to stay on top of things to do at least ok? Or was it because my classes just seemed boring? I don't know. I do know that in the end, I liked my lawschool experience: I finished a semester early, got a job at the DOJ, enjoyed my clinicals with LAIP and the Prosecutor Project, and I really did enjoy my first year and half of classes. But except for one or two courses in my last two semesters of school, I have to admit that the actual classwork was at best just busywork. I'll be interested to hear what recommendations you are going to make.
p.s. Whitford is very good at the Socratic method, and I really liked Dickey (but maybe that's because I knew I was the one paying for my education so I simply never really was intimidated by him).
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