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.

Friday, September 12, 2003

"The Standard First Day of Class Speech," Take 2

I posted something a few days ago called "The Standard First Day of Class Speech." I've done a rewrite. So some of this will look familiar; it's not that I've forgotten I posted it, or anything like that.

"The First Day of Class"

I'm Professor Lawreviewandsupremecourtclerkship, and this is Space Law. Welcome. If you're not signed up for this course, see me after class and I'll put your name on a sheet of paper I will intend to bring to the registrar, but instead will accidentally drop down the sewer grate, forget all about it, and you won't know anything until the end of the semester when you don't get a grade for the class and it's too late to do anything about it. If you're on the wait list, keep waiting. If your schedule doesn't say Space Law, and you're expecting a different class, you may be in the wrong room, here at the wrong time, or a combination of the two. I really can't be sure.

What I want to do this morning is get all of the procedural stuff out of the way, talk about how the class will operate and what you can expect. Then I want to jump right into the first assignment, which I'm sure you've all read even though the bookstore hasn't ordered the casebooks yet.

As far as seating goes, I notice you've filled the room starting from the back, meaning that there's not a seat free in the back two rows, yet the first seven rows have just two people in them. One is the guy who came in late; the other is the guy who came in first. If I had a backbone, I'd tell everyone to move down and fill the bottom few rows; instead, I'll just act like I don't notice, and wander aimlessly around the room while I teach, up the aisle, down the aisle, trying to find a spot where you can all actually see me, I can hear you when you speak, and I don't look like I'm just teaching to the two people up front.

I'll expect everyone to be prepared for every class. To that end, I will assign a panel each day who will be the only ones called on, and the only ones for whom I will actually know if you did the reading. This will help me ensure that everyone does the reading. At least once during the semester. I'll assign you to panels based on whether or not you volunteer; people who do not volunteer will very likely find themselves not on a panel. This will not affect your grade.

There are some topics that are particularly dense, that I'll just have to speed through at a pace unlikely to make any of you learn them. This will accomplish nothing, but I'll talk for an hour about them anyway. Other topics are less doctrinal and more public policy-oriented. For those, I'll bring in my new mp3 player and open up the floor for discussion while I check out the new John Mayer album. Since you won't be graded on your class participation, and, heck, hardly even on your final exams, there's no real need for me to listen to anything you have to say anyway. There are a few topics that are so dismal that I will cancel class at the last minute and expect you to learn them on your own. I may test on them. It depends on whether or not the professor I steal the test from tested on them.

Attendance in class is mandatory unless you're not here, in which case it's optional. Please don't e-mail me regarding an expected absence from class. I have no reason to care. The final exam will be hard, and hardly read. Your grade will be based exclusively on the ratio of consonants to vowels in your last name.

A few times during the semester, I will print out a new syllabus that is identical to the old one, but I will insist there's something different about it. On the occasions that I do make a change in the syllabus, I will not tell you and will not print out any copies for you. Occasionally I will provide handouts in class. For these, I will make approximately three-quarters of the number of copies I need, and usually touch them while they're still hot so the ink smears.

I plan on using the overhead projector a bit, but I will make sure not to plug it in so that I can spend 20 minutes at the beginning of class futzing around with it. On the rare occasion I have a video to show, there is no reason to expect I will actually get it to play, and even if I can there's no possible chance it'll be the right video. More likely than not, it will be a video of my wife and me in a compromising position. In the alternative, it may be a video of me and one of your classmates in a similar position.

The casebook for the class is "Space Law." I wrote it three years ago and it's now in its fifteenth edition. Every three weeks, a new edition will come out and you will have to buy a new copy. This is required. I'll be assigning random pages throughout it during the course of the semester, usually corresponding to nothing in particular and occasionally pages that haven't yet been written. Version 8 of the syllabus, which you should all have, goes into more detail.

There is a paper requirement for the course that I will not enforce. There will also be a five-minute break in the middle of class whenever I'm bored and want to run back to my office and take another anti-depressant before continuing. There's a sign-up sheet outside my office for anyone who wants to go to lunch with me. I can't imagine why you would. I'm available for third-year paper advising. My wife just left me. See you tomorrow.