Volume 10, Issue 12
Reader, if you’ve followed my reporting over this year, you’ll know that we’ve been on the sticky end of several bombshells. From pouring cold water on the mythos of the level two fountain, to refusing to dance around the hard facts of the ball and sending razor-edged dispatches from behind clerkship lines, it’s been one hell of a year for hard-nosed journalism.
But this may be my biggest scoop yet.
You are undoubtedly aware of the back-and-forth waged between the law school and some students in regards to the recording of lectures, which culminated in the Dean’s Turgenev-inspired email, dated 29 September. (If Russian literature-cum-email is not your preferred style, the short stick is the powers that be said no recordings.) Responses, and the usual arguing followed.
While I would never impose upon these hallowed grounds of discussion, I feel compelled to report on one particular remark made by the Dean, which I quote as the following: “Students also suggested that they would like to be able to listen to some classes several times...Faculty did not believe that this was an effective or useful way to engage in revision”.
The mind barely believes the truth of the eyes. Not an effective or useful way to engage in revision. The words blur and move, creating the illusion of a world vibrating in disturbed rhythms. Not effective or useful. Listening to lectures.
Suddenly the thought strikes: if listening to lectures is not an effective way to learn the material, why do we have them? Would not time be better serviced in private pursuit of the law? Perhaps instead we should commit the crimes about which we are interested in learning, and study the what-happens-next.
But I step back from the brink. The law school mustn’t intend us to receive no benefit from going to class; it must simply be a more subtle benefit than we had previously imagined.
I have percolated on this for some time, and propose to you the following salad of intended benefits:
Office hours. For how long have you pined to be able to say you have office hours? Now you can. A great time to reply to those emails, put in some research, apply for jobs, and any other administrative chores up on which you’ve been meaning to catch.
Befriending your lecturer. Some of them really are nice people! The thinking on this one is this: why put an ear to the grapevine when you can put a grape in your mouth? How great to have an inside line on which to chew. I recommend incorporating passages of their textbooks into your in-class responses, and following up the close quotation with a wink.
Romancing your lecturer. Tried this once. Didn’t go well.
Romancing your classmates. Ah, yes. Less risky, and with more precedent — one is tempted to say more fertile ground. But casanova emptor: the walls have ears and filthy minds.
Taking in the great works of art. Did you know you can tour some of the great collections from your computer? The Louvre, the Tate Modern, Uffizi (in Florence, you philistine), and MoMA all have virtual tours. Plug in your headphones to enjoy the audible crush of the crowd.
Listening to a great playlist. Now that you’ve got the headphones in, why not? Craft subject-specific mixtapes for your friends!
The list could run on before us, but having compiled this much, I suspect that I have again missed the point. After all, these are each uses of time that one imagines would be useful to the student. But what advantage does the law school derive from these classes? Without wanting to put too fine a point on it, surely it cannot be the case that the law school intends all of the benefit to accrue to the students? If classes are not effective tools of learning, why do the lecturers attend?
I propose the following:
Seling books. That’s how royalties work: you buy them, you quote them in class, they get paid.
Catharsis. I get it. Sometimes lecturers just need a little something to help them unwind. And what better than ridiculing the wayward or snide remarks of students?
Friendship/companionship. The lighter corollary of the previous. Human contact is good for everyone. And I am sure that being closeted away studying legal filigree inspires to a fair degree the desire for company.
Creating that elusive ‘law school’ ambience. What better way to demonstrate our superior pedigree to the guests of the law school than by crafting the right atmosphere? With the hallways pulsating with a living, breathing legal hive-mind, who could doubt our reputation? Call it that certain je ne sais la loi.
Subtly forcing upon the cohort the structures and dynamics of anarcho-syndicalism, such that no centralisation of power could arise to threaten the entrenched dominance of the establishment. Well?
I welcome any addition to either of these lists, as well as playlist and video recommendations. I can be reached during the usual Remedies hours on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Scott Colvin is a third-year JD student, now completing the rest of his studies by distance
The rest of this issue(!):