Thursday, September 25, 2014
The New Craze: EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING . . . for law professors
I also want to start from the premise that in law teaching the minimal goal is not "do no harm" but "do some good." I'll put aside my view that this means about 95% of legal scholarship falls outside the "do some good" category. (Ok, now it is aside.)
How are law professors supposed to know what it means to do some good as in making someone better off? This is the problem, most law professors when straight for grade grubbing undergraduates to grade grubbing at a small group of so called elite law schools. Most have had very few life experiences that would help them understand what it means to "do good" or why one might choose to "do good" for those worst off in society. (I like to say sometimes some law professors seem to "have feelings too," just really tiny ones. That is likely not true -- they probable have the same capacity to feel as anyone else, they just do not know from experience how certain things feel.)
If we are turning to experiential learning for students, how about some experiential learning for law professors so they will have a fuller idea of the breadth of "do good." To this end I am hereby propose to the ABA, the AALS, the ASPC and whatever that all wannabe law professors and incumbents be required to select three of the following activities in order to improve their teaching and the quality of their scholarship:
1. Live as a homeless person for 2 months.
2. Go without dental or medical care for 10 years.
3. Take no vacations of any kind for 5 years.
4. Work as a laborer on a construction site for 6 months.
5. Do not eat out except in fast food restaurants for 5 years.
6. Don't own a Prius but get by on $30 worth of gas a month.
7. Teach 9th graders at a school located in a urban low income neighborhood.
8. Bus tables for 8 hours a day 6 days a week.
9. Be a firefighter or police officer for a year.
10. Work as the nurse in an emergency room, operate a bulldozer in 95 degrees, process chicken, etc.
This is only a partial list of experiential learning opportunities for law teachers because, let's face it, is there a more inexperienced group than the people who teach and write about law?