Professor Friedman has a post on why he does not use any technology in the classroom to aid his teaching.
But for the most part I teach as I was taught: I ask questions, call on students to answer those questions, and the discussion continues from there.
Which leads to the point I typically raise with Louis: altering one’s teaching to appeal to different learning styles among students is well and good and consumer-friendly, but in much of the practice of law, an endeavor which requires learning on the job for much of one’s career, no one is going to adapt to the way students’ preferred learning mode. That is, the judge will not explain his evidentiary ruling visually, the senior partner will not illustrate his point with a movie clip from The Departed, and you will be hard-pressed to find the Classics Illustrated versions of the cases you need to read and understand for the summary judgment brief due at the end of the week.
I find this entire argument entirely backward-looking, not to mention unpersuasive.
I think my post comparing Norman Rockwell’s law student of 1927 (pictured) to the law student of today.
Let’s break this down. He teaches as he was taught. That Burkean approach to teaching presumes that his professors did an ideal job, and no derivations thereof could possibly be an improvement. I mean, asking questions and getting answers, at a high level of generality, is how all classrooms work. But what about, I don’t know, asking questions through an electronic chat? Or letting students answer questions in a similar fashion. This screams more that the professor is incapable of working with the technology than a normative judgment that it wouldn’t work well.
I also think Professor Friedman misunderstands how technology can foster learning. No judge will explain a ruling with a powerpoint, certainly. But the vast-vast-vast majority of communications any lawyer engages in are electronic. Far more emails and chats are exchanged than court appearances and meetings with senior partners. Teaching law students to communicate effectively, and concisely, with electronic communications is an under-appreciated skill. Not to mention the explosion of electronic discovery and online research. Certainly these tools were not taught in the good ‘ol days, but they are essential for any lawyer today.
When the technology can be a complement to the traditional classroom technology, then we are in business. The law student of 1927 is not the law student of today.
My classroom will be different.