Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

There's another weblog out there that's been categorizing law students into a number of different classroom types. I thought I'd give it a try, as semester one finishes up...

For the World-Revolver, every class is a class of one, and anyone else in the room is invisible. If the World-Revolver puts down his hand, it's only so that he can leave class to get some food, or so that he can simply interrupt the discussion without even bothering to wait to be called on. Why is it even necessarily for the professor to acknowledge his or her hand when there's no else of any use in the room anyway. It's a one-on-one tutorial for the World-Revolver, so questions of no interest to the rest of the class are fair game. And, of course, the class doesn't really need to end when it's over, so the World-Revolvers are sure to run up to the professor's desk to continue the tutorial when class has finished. A typical in-class comment from a World-Revolver: "I was absent yesterday -- would you mind repeating everything you said? And after that, I have this hypothetical I'd like to pose regarding my grandmother's infected boil and article 2-305 of the Uniform Commercial Code."

The Approval-Seeker treats class as an opportunity to demonstrate to the professor that he or she wants to be the President of the professor's fan club. A student of this type constantly nods his or head in agreement when the professor makes a point, laughs heartily at the professor's jokes, and offers comments in class that consistently reflect the student having done additional reading on his own, especially of anything written by the professor. These students compete with the World-Revolvers for the prime positions up at the professor's desk after class to ask questions. But the Approval-Seekers aren't usually there to ask actual questions. They just want to bask in the professor's glow -- and make sure the professor remembers they were there. A typical in-class comment from an approval seeker: "Wonderful point, professor. I was reading your article in the May 1974 Journal of Administrative Law and noticed you also said that government regulation can stifle innovation. Is that point still valid, or have there been substantial changes since? I was thinking of doing an independent study project on the issue and was hoping you might be willing to be my advisor. But we can talk about that after class."

The My-Turn simply won't shut up. It's not so much that he ignores the rest of the class or cares about impressing the professor. It's just that he or she always has something to say. Anyone else's comment is simply an opportunity for the My-Turn to share his or her thoughts on the matter. Someone else is talking? The My-Turn's hand is in the air, waiting impatiently for the first moment he can jump in. Professor poses a question? He's got an answer. Right or wrong, it doesn't matter. Said it before? Who cares? The My-Turn can never hear himself talk enough. A typical in-class comment from a My-Turn: "Following up on Ms. Smith's point, I want to once again reiterate that I think crime is bad. No matter what kind of crime, we need to try and stop it. I disagree with whoever said some kinds of crime are good. I think crime is bad. And if you disagree, I will only continue to press my point. Crime is bad. Unquestionably."

The Filling-My-Quota has decided that he or she must speak once per class, come hell or high water. Prone to not paying any attention at all to what's actually going on -- usually having not done the reading and addicted to solitaire to boot, a class simply can't pass without the Filling-My-Quota offering some instantly forgettable comment of some sort. It's not so much that this type of student is irritating -- he doesn't talk enough for that to happen -- but that you know it's coming, and you know it'll be siply a useless statement. Typical comment from a filling-my-quota: "I agree with the last point. String beans are usually green."

The Crazy-Outlier says strange things consistently. He or she simply has extreme positions on anything that comes up in a class discussion, and makes it a point to share those positions. Usually entertaining, often a relief in comparison to hearing the usual chors of agreement, the Crazy-Outlier just needs to be careful of speaking too much and becoming a My-Turn. In small doses, the Crazy-Outlier can sometimes make a class truly interesting. Typical comment from a crazy-outlier: "Abortion should not only be allowed, it should be mandatory."

The Eye-Roller hates his classmates, hates life, and, most of all, hates what you've just said. Sometimes it's just a facial expression, sometimes a sigh from the back of the room, sometimes a comment: "yeah, right," "I don't think so," and "sure..." being some of the favorites. Whenever he or she raises his hand, it's to cast doubt on what's been said before, or simply to express disgust for the entire discussion. Typical comment from the eye-roller: "That's a ridiculous point-of-view. We can't go around arresting criminals. It's nonsense. I don't even know why it's on the table and how Mr. Brown looks at himself in the mirror every morning after making a comment like that."

The Lost-In-Space may as well not be in class. He or she may have done the reading, but probably hasn't. The real problem is that the lost-in-space is just never paying attention. It's a shock to the system when he's called on, and can never really get it together enough to make any point at all. Also prone to asking questions about irrelevant subjects. Typical comment from a lost-in-space: "Can you repeat the question? I just, uh, I wasn't really following... I'm a little confused... could you explain how contracts and steamed broccoli are related?"

The Firefly spends most of the time completely silent. But every so often he lights up with something extraordinary to say. It's never expected, and it's always completely on the ball. And it's rare enough that there's no irritating factor at all. This is the kind of student most aspire to be. Typical comment: "It seems to me that even though the two laws conflict on the face of things, the first applies only to nights and weekends, and the second applies to normal business hours. So, using the precedent set in the previous case, we can reconcile the differences without the legal theory collapsing onto itself."

The Wallflower never dances unless he or she is forced to. Sometimes they can dance, sometimes they can't, but they'll never volunteer to. And once they're on the dance floor, they're looking for the quickest way off. Typical comment: "Me? Uh, the court said no."