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.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It's a farce.

It's all a farce.

Some of my classes are making me wonder exactly what law school's for. And, really, when I think about it, in 2+ years, there really haven't been too many classes that have blown me away. And if it's like that here, then I can't even begin to imagine what it's like elsewhere. (And I know that teaching quality doesn't necessarily correlate with school prestige, but still.)

I know I'm only two weeks into the semester, but I feel like I've taken one of my classes before. Freshman year of college. It was called Introductory Microeconomics back then, and it was expected we'd be able to draw a graph and do some basic algebra. In my class this semester, we spent an hour and a half drawing the graph of what monopoly profits look like. And then the professor read us some past exam questions that were, to put it mildly, not challenging. I know this is law school, not economics grad school, but, come on, let's put some expectations on students, okay? Let's not treat graphs and numbers like something to be scared of and to avoid whenever possible. If someone chooses to take this class -- and no one has to choose it -- how about you give us something real to do? Place an expectation on us that we can learn better than a college freshman. There aren't too many economics classes offered at the law school. Why am I wasting my time taking this class? I want to learn something. I don't want to feel like my freshman year intro economics class was equivalent to a Harvard Law School course. Half the class is econ majors. And it's all in the book anyway. So speed through the basic stuff, tell people to read the book if they need more detail -- instead of just reading the book to us during the class -- and move on to cool new economics stuff. Otherwise it's just filling time and getting me credits for no reason. And I'm certain I'm not alone.

And this isn't the only class. Too many of the classes I've taken and heard about from my classmates are bad. The professors read right from the book, ask basic questions looking for answers taken verbatim from the reading, and basically serve as reading replacements instead of reading supplements. Add some value. Please. They're mostly all very, very smart, very, very capable people. Who are doing less teaching than we're paying for. Everyone knows how to read. We can read the casebook. Tell me something not in the book. Make me think about the material. Challenge me. Engage me. Please.

And it's not all professors. I've had some great ones. Engaging, brilliant, dynamic. But they're the exception, not the rule -- and that's not right. It's not how it should be. It's sad if this is the height of education. Are there no good teachers out there in the world? Are they all trapped at investment banks, consulting practices, and law firms?

I'm being unfair. And I'm not actually upset so much as resigned to this being what it is. To no longer bothering with any expectations. I choose my classes pretty carefully, and try to pick professors I think will be good. The class I'm taking with a professor I've had before is meeting expectations. The others I'm taking are not quite. I don't think it's anything about these classes in particular. It's endemic in the system. There's something making professors not that thrilling. Maybe it's the water. Maybe there are only a few rare people who can actually do this stuff well. Maybe I expect too much.