Monday, December 10, 2007

Make Lemonade Out of Lemons

As students retreat to the recesses of libraries and cafes to prepare for exams, I imagine they find one of two things inter alia: they were either taught or not taught.

When students review a course they were taught, there is a sense of peace and accomplishment. Students tie threads together and connect dots that might have seemed disparate and abstract throughout the course of the year. While there is minor wrestling, for the most part it's a wholly pleasant and intellectual exercise because it makes sense. After all, it was taught.

When students review a course they were not taught, the experience is quite different. Students feel frustrated as they dig through and wrestle with material, trying to make sense of something that never made sense the day it was covered (not taught) in class.

I must say that while the latter process is not ideal, in a bizarre way it is encouraging. After students graduate and are practicing lawyers, they will not have someone to teach them, they will have to teach themselves. Lawyers are life-long students of the law. If students can digest and make sense of complex material, teaching themselves the material, it bodes well for their future. Students pay $30k a year for actual teaching (not self-teaching), true, but in a circumstance like this what else can they do? They are stuck. So, hopefully the best of them can make lemonade out of lemons.


Marie T. Reilly said...

Practicing law involves a lot of teaching. Lawyers teach clients, colleagues, adversaries and courts. As leaders in their communities, they teach people to put aside anger, fear and jealousies to find resolutions to conflicts.

If you are experiencing a teacherless course, I'm sorry for your frustration. I console you with the idea that you are learning (the hard way) the value of teaching. In seeing what is missing, you are learning how to be an effective teacher yourself.

Anonymous said...

I am Brian Reilly, Marie's little brother from Chicago (back here she is known as "Big Red" first and "Professor" much later down the road if ever).
We miss her and you are lucky to have her. The most poignant advice to law students that I recall receiving relating to final exams is: is a stimulant, diaretic, AND LAXATIVE!
Good luck to all on your exams. Relax. Remember Starbuck's has yet to introduce a gallon cup of coffee for a reason!

Alison M. Kilmartin said...

Thank you both for your comments. I am hours away from my last exam, a 24 take-home, and my faith along with the love of family and friends have held me in good stead (coffee and treats don't hurt either here and there). Merry Christmas and I hope the New Year finds both of you excelling in your legal endeavors.