Monday, April 21, 2008

Noblesse Non Oblige

I am not sure what to think about Noblesse oblige. I guess if there is nobility, members should do something to help others. Around law schools the message somehow has been reinterpreted to mean Noblesse Non Oblige. For example, a law professor pipes up and complains that many students who want to take a course can not get in. When it is suggested that he teach an extra section for those students about whom he is worried, he gets very quiet.

Or faculty in a meeting are trying to decide whether the work in a course warrants 3 credits or not. A straight faced suggestion is that we should call it a 4 credit course because the teacher could justify teaching only one course that semester.

Or needed courses are taught at conflicting times because professors cannot teach early, late or on Friday or Monday.

Some courses are desperately under staffed meaning that basic courses go untaught. When hiring season starts the candidates hired teach yet another fringe course and limit the enrollment to 25 because the people who teach those courses share their politics, travel plans and the absence of a sense of humor of those doing the hiring.

Faculty hired to teach first year or mainstream courses suddenly have a change of heart a year or two after being hired.

Multiple choice machine graded exams are used exclusively because, well, it means not having to get your hands dirty by examining the actual analysis of the students to see if the reasoning is good or bad and, if so, where it went off the tracks. This could come handy if a professor cared to discuss and diagnose what happened on the exam.

Every year law schools clamor to hire Noblesse and get precious little in the Oblige department.

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