There’s been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere lately on the role of law schools in preparing students for the actual work of a lawyer. I pay attention to this, since I help develop the research skills of law students and new associates. Two recent posts caught my attention, for their similar yet divergent viewpoints.
Jordan Furlong, author of Law 21, has a post about banning laptops in the law school classroom. What I really like about Jordan’s blog is he doesn’t just discuss an issue, he presents thought-provoking solutions. I don’t always agree with him, but I’m always left thinking!
As Jordan points out, if students are checking their email or surfing the internet during a lecture, it’s because they’re not engaged. While I agree that it’s not up to the lecturer to entertain her audience, there is always a better way to present material if the majority of the class is not paying attention. Is banning laptops from the classroom the solution? Wouldn’t it be better if we could say “only students interested in learning accepted here”?
My daughter recently presented a paper in her high school English class. She tried to find some video clips that would illustrate some of her points, but she couldn’t get them in time for her presentation. Her comments about the experience were most telling: she felt the students before her had more interesting presentations, because one used an activity to draw in the audience, and the other brought cookies. However she felt hers was okay because her teacher asked her lots of questions about it, and at least the two of them had a good discussion about the topic.
Bruce MacEwan, creator and host of Adam Smith, Esq., has a lively post on Legal Education Reform, which talks about the relevance of law school education to the work performed by actual lawyers. He compares it to the discussion going on in business schools about the value of what is taught for an MBA. Apparently this has been in discussion for a long time, but today’s stiff employment market has made it more significant.
I work with small groups of articling students or second year law students. They are bright and articulate young people (even our mature students are younger than me!). They are eager to learn, and soak up whatever they are told. Still, it helps being part of a smaller group – much harder to hide when there’s only four people in total!
There are no easy answers, in fact, sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what the question is. I just listen to what other people do, and try to find something that will work for me. What do you do?
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