Thursday, February 17, 2011

SDS, It's Not.

Above the Law has a funny article about our beloved UM School of Law (again). From Cairo to Coral Gables, revolution is in the air. Apparently, there are stirrings (no doubt inspired by Tahir Square) of a student movement to adopt a "Student Bill of Rights." What rights you wonder, since most of the really good ones (the ones people are dying for in Bahrain and elsewhere) already are covered in our real Bill of Rights. What noble selfless cause has gripped the student body politic? Well, fairer grading of course and less "professor autonomy" in the classroom (the obvious problem in higher education). There are 12 "amendments" posted at ATL but here are my 3 favorite with suggestions in italics:

1) The right of students to be given an unbiased legal education shall not be infringed. [And enforced by a well regulated militia. Amend. II]

2) The right of students to take exams that proportionally cover the material discussed in class and presented in the required reading shall not be contravened. [Or Else Cruel and Unusual Punishment Shall be Inflicted on the Professor. Amend. VIII]

[To reduce professor autonomy in the classroom, all professors shall blow a foghorn in class before lecturing on any tested material.]

3) The right of a student to receive a clear explanation from the professor as to how the student received their grade on any graded assignment. [And then petition the Administration for a redress of grievances. Amend. I]

Hey, I'm all for student energy but let's breathe a little. Yes, UM, like a lot of law schools, has a large student class in a depressed job market. So, I have a lot of sympathy for those hard-working students knee-deep in loan debt stressing about their future. Grades matter. I get that.

But, here's the teachable moment. Law students learning how to succeed under a professor's rules in the classroom is great training for . . . being a lawyer. We practitioners have our own professors (they're called Judges) and they lecture us on courtroom practice, not the other way around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those who can't, teach. -- George Bernard Shaw.
Those who can't, but can't teach either, become judges. --Anonymous.