Philosophy of Teaching
How one teaches, is necessarily influenced by what one perceives as the goals of legal education. Certainly, the primary goal is to prepare you to be effective lawyers, judges and policy makers. At a minimum, these goals include helping the student to develop the ability to:
• Think critically, precisely, and clearly;
• Express his or self succinctly;
• Understand the expressions of others; particularly, those who are different from his or her self;
• Understand human nature, particularly the motivations and needs of his or her clients, opponents, jurors, judges, etc.; and,
• Use the techniques of the legal profession to represent a client in general matters, to recognize where you lack competence, and to comply with accepted ethical standards.
While it is hardly arguable that preparing you to be an effective lawyer is an significant goal, it is not the only one. Many of you will be law makers and policy makers, and training you to understand the values implicit in the law is an important goal. Another important goal is to train you to address in a systematic manner your social responsibilities as an individual lawyer and your collective responsibilities as a member of the bar. This includes a student's responsibility to assist the community in maintaining an accessible, effective and socially responsible legal system.
The primary focus of my teaching method is to provide you an educationally sound introduction to “Remedies." Furthermore, given the impact race and gender have on the law (and vice versa) my approach to teaching is to explore explicitly diversity/bias issues as a component of all aspects of law. Thus, my objective is to help you continue the process of meeting those goals.
A. Teaching Objective #1: Educationally Sound Pedagogy
An educationally sound legal pedagogy is a philosophy of legal education grounded in known educational theory. To be so grounded, and educationally sound legal pedagogy:
< Trains you to solve legal problems by providing you with working program for solving problems;
< Provides you with criteria for indicating specifically what progress you are making;
< Evaluate your performance in accordance with the criteria set;
< Provides you with the opportunity to practice each new skill throughout the learning process; and,
< Provides you with adequate instruction on how to study for law school and this course.
B. Teaching Objective #2: Remedies Teaching Objectives
Remedies teaching objectives are those objectives that relate directly to the substantive area of the law. They can be divided into two categories: knowledge and skills/abilities. The objectives of this course are to:
< Provide you with a basic understanding remedy;
< Provide you information about selected principles o (or black letter law) and significant issues (or unsettled matters) in Remedies;
< Help you understand the value implications of legal choices;
< Help you develop and improve your analytical skills including understanding, issue- spotting, problem-solving, judgment, and synthesis;
< Help you to understand the importance of inference and intuition in problem definition and problem-solving; and
< Emphasize that "personal neutrality" is not necessary to scholarly objectivity.
C. Teaching Objectives #3: Diversity/bias-Conscious Legal Pedagogy
Class, disability, gender, race, religion and sexual preference issues are such an integral part of our society (and the legal profession) that we often overlook how the law affects individuals with different backgrounds differently. In a diverse society, such as ours, understanding of how different class, disability, gender race and sexual preference are affected differently by the law is essential. This is true whether the person is a defendant, plaintiff, lawyer, juror, judge or law student. Diversity skills should be a normative part of the value system of the practicing attorney. The objectives of this course is to:
< Explore how racial, ethnic, gender, class, disability, cultural and sexual orientation are related to and impacted by the structure of law.
< Illuminate the connection between racial and gender issues and the values, interests, rules and theories that appear to be neutral but, are in fact a representation of the values of the dominant culture;
< Frame classroom discussion so that we step outside the doctrinal bounds of the law to critique the rules and legal practice; and,
< Focuses discussion on problems, interests, and values that reflect a broad range of perspectives.
D. Teaching Objectives #4: Improving Bar Test-Taking Skills
Passing the bar is not only about knowing the law, but it is also about having sufficiently developed test-taking skills. One of the most significant areas of concern for many students is their ability to take multiple-choice exams. This course will help you improve your test-taking skills. We will do that by:
< Explicitly teaching you those skills,
< Providing frequent opportunity to practice the skills and
< Structuring a process of improvement that can be used by you beyond this course.