May 11, 2010

“Professor Kagan, honestly I didn’t get to all of the reading for today’s class. Sadly, I think I need to pass on this one.”

Elie Mystal shares an old classroom transcript:
PROFESSOR KAGAN: Well, Mr. Mystal, did you manage to remember your casebook?
1L ELIE: Yes. But like I said, I didn’t …
PROFESSOR KAGAN: Do you think you could be bothered to OPEN your casebook?
1L ELIE: (I have a bad feeling about this.) Yes. Abso…
PROFESSOR KAGAN: Please turn to page [whatever]… Now read.
1L ELIE: (Reading silently.)
PROFESSOR KAGAN: ALOUD.
1L ELIE: (Channeling Nathan Jessup: I’m not an idiot, I don’t need to read aloud like I’m a five year old.) Umm … Okay. (Much reading aloud.)
PROFESSOR KAGAN: Now, can you explain to me what you just read?
1L ELIE: (I can’t even remember what I blathered.)
PROFESSOR KAGAN: Mr. Mystal, open to page [same page as before], and TRY AGAIN!

At that point I just kind of had a disassociative break. My mouth kept moving, but my mind went into some kind of fetal position. Please stop hitting me, Professor Kagan.

Kagan hated unprepared students, but she reserved her harshest ire for people who showed up to her class late. She’d essentially stop the class, literally — she’d stop talking in mid-sentence. Then she’d wait impatiently for the student to assume their seat. And then make some caustic remark about the importance of timeliness.
That takes guts. I salute her! I wish I had the nerve to do things like that. I don't even like to call on people. I either rely on volunteers or call on students and add "sorry to bother you" or something like that (which I mean humorously, but only semi-humorously). And yet Kagan is the one who acquired  the reputation for the high social IQ. Awesome!

174 comments:

Methadras said...

Leftard authoritarianism at work. Embarrasement always works. She didn't get the memo on the low-self esteem movement.

Kirstin said...

I hated professors who humiliated students.

Bob Ellison said...

I guess that's why we call them Professors, not Teachers. Teachers impart wisdom; Professors imitate Kingsley from The Paper Chase.

No, I'm not that cynical, but in college, I met a few incompetents like the person Mystal describes. If that's really who Kagan is, maybe she had a very bad day, but if I saw it first-hand, I'd call it incompetent.

Seven Machos said...

Listen, man, if you are at Harvard or Chicago, some humiliation in your life is only going to help you.

I like Kagan more after reading this. I hasten to add, though, that some of my favorite professors were raving leftists who I certainly would not want on the Supreme Court.

She's going to be confirmed. The issue is merely whether Obama can be damaged in the process. That's how a smart politician would think.

The Drill SGT said...

Althouse, Kingsfield you aren't :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZJEhlIefxA

Dead Julius said...

Those organization kids don't have time for slackers. Must achieve.

Still, it is rude to humiliate people, especially in from of their peers.

I say "boooooo" to Kagan. You ought not to admire her obnoxiousness, Althouse.

Seven Machos said...

I want to share something here, with the world, that I have always wanted to share. It would make a great article, really.

I happen to know that all law students believe that their school is not a place where students "hide books" or are competitive, or where the professors embarrass students, not like "at other schools."

However, I also happen to know that students at every law school in the country say this. And, yes, I really do happen to know this. It's really a weird psychology. The fact is that professors like Kagan is described aren't common at all at the best schools. To the extent they exist, they exist in the bottom tier, where the professors make a real effort to scare the shit out of you so you'll commit black-letter law to memory and have a good chance at passing the bar.

traditionalguy said...

Not very course and professor can do to the law students a full Paper Chase class drama every day, but no law school is complete without at least one Professor that takes that approach.

Matt said...

Golly a professor who actually demands her students read the material and understand it. What next? Homework?

Palladian said...

The students humiliate themselves by being unprepared or late. I completely support Kagan's approach. If you don't do it, bad habits continue and spread. I tend to temper my reproach by being somewhat light-hearted about it, but it does depend on the situation. In my courses and with the layout of our classrooms, it's extremely disruptive to stumble in late.

The Crack Emcee said...

"At that point I just kind of had a disassociative break. My mouth kept moving, but my mind went into some kind of fetal position. Please stop hitting me, Professor Kagan."

She didn't hit you, you dork, she spoke to you. Maybe not in a manner you liked, or were used to, but to elevate words to the level of violence - after acknowledging you had already disrespected her and the class by showing up unprepared and giving her that lame "I'd rather not" bullshit - just proves what an arrogant, self-entitled, wimpy pussy you are.

After reading this, I almost wish she had hit you, rather than - or as part of - educating your dumb ass. I would've.

Now this person, apparently, wants to keep acting like they were a victim when they were totally in the wrong to begin with. Amazing.

It just goes to show you an education is wasted on some people.

victoria said...

I had a professor who would lock the door at 9:05. If someone was late, they had to knock on the door and have the professor let him/her in the room. The person then had to walk to the back of the classroom (as the classroom was full at that point). The humiliation was enough to ensure that no one was ever late for class more than once. Good lesson to learn. Lateness is the surest sign of disrespect and should not be tolerated. Go Elena!!!!!

BYW, this professor was brilliant and, in the 70's at USC, was probably the most popular professor on campus. He taught Old Testament. I, as a Biblical Archeology major, had to take the class. One of the great academic pleasures of my lifetime.
Wimps, those of you who hate her because she called out a late student.

Vicki from Pasadena

victoria said...

Was I ever late, hell no.

Vicki

Eric said...

Sounds like the kind of person I don't want running my life.

traditionalguy said...

The real world of lawyers includes learning to handle some unbelievably arrogant and unfair attacks from jerks with lifetime appointments to the Federal trial level courts. After the word gets out, smart lawyers will voluntarily dismiss and re-file when one of these Captain Queeg type judges gets their case. My point is that public humiliation is an everyday fun part of a trial lawyers career.

mesquito said...

I like her more for this as well. And I bet her method really worked.

rhhardin said...

Her grip on reality is not strong.

Iapetus said...

If a law student aspires to be a litigator, then that student had better learn to be punctual and prepared. To show up late in court and unprepared is a disservice to his client and disrespectful of the court, which is likely to lead to a worse verbal thrashing from the judge than from any wimpy college professor. The lowering of a course grade in college should pale in comparison to censure by a sitting judge

SteveR said...

Hard to judge on this small insight. Some professors earn and deserve more respect than others and many students don't do a very good job spending daddy's money.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

As someone who was almost always prepared and There To Learn, I absolutely hated when professors would either push or embarass students who were not prepared. What an enormous waste of the rest of the class's time, and how irritating to listen to!

Much better when professors just accept that that student is not and move on to the next one, and remember this when class participation grades are figured.

michael farris said...

"Please stop hitting me, Professor Kagan."

How freakin' pathetic can you be?

In all honesty the story makes me like Kagan (who I'd never heard of, somehow) more than the slacker, uninvolved student who was doing his best to not learn (an odd thing to be proud of, as he apparently still is).

This was not humiliation, but a vain attempt to get someone to pay! attention! Probably altogether harsher methods were called for.

Full disclosure: As a student I was unprepared a time or three hundred and when I got called on it, I never blamed the teacher, but myself (after the age of 12 or so).

As a teacher I do my best to not humiliate students (while not letting them slack off).
And I find that simply stopping speaking and staring at someone who's talking (with eyebrows slightly raised) does wonders in discourageing idle chatter.

Fred4Pres said...

Was she like this?

Kirby Olson said...

I never say a word, but I count any student who comes in late as half-absent, even if they come in one minute later to a three-hour class.

Then at the end of the class I deduct points and get my revenge on all that distraction and disruption.

However, I like this side of Kagan. I think it's a very fine thing to be a drill sergeant in the class and enforce the rules.

Now if she'd just do that with the border, with Fannie & Freddie (which are leaking money STILL at least as badly as the gas leak in the gulf), and if she'll apply the law fairly to all instead of being empathetic to her homies, I think I will be able to stand her.

rhhardin said...

Ms Kagan, you're working for me.

Ask her to get her paycheck stub out.

It's a mistake she's going to make again.

rhhardin said...

Chinese coolies that formed companies to pull barges up the river would hire a guy whose only job was to whip them if they didn't work hard enough.

The whipper worked for them.

His job was to make sure the other guys were working, and each guy favored that.

That doesn't seem to be the case here.

David said...

Kagan for Supreme Court. (Reversing my prior opinion.)

Wanna be a lawyer?

Be prepared.

Tough love indeed.

David said...

I stand with Palladian: "The students humiliate themselves by being unprepared or late."

jayne_cobb said...

The secret to rarely being called on is to be incredibly boring in any answer you give (in tone and content).

The assholes typically only go after those who provide an interesting reaction. Anyone else is likely to let a student go if they don't know.



Also writing your name illegibly on the seating chart helps.

mariner said...

I don't like people who use their power to humiliate others.

But here?

Children need to be taught proper behavior, and some children continue to need instruction a little longer than others.

If her ire were aroused by the race or gender or social background of the student that would be different, but I think she's setting a reasonable bar for law students.

bagoh20 said...

I hope any lawyer representing me has been through a lot worse and learned from it. I think they should be required like medical residents to go through hell and learn to perform anyway. The profession often has people's lives at stake and they should be battle tested. There are other jobs for the tender ones, like Supreme Court Justice, where they won't embarrass you with tough questions, unless your a conservative like Bork or Thomas.

bagoh20 said...

I bet someone like Obama would never be treated like that and you know why.

Skeptical said...

If rhhardin thinks that professors at universities work for students -- that students are somehow their employers -- then rhhardin misunderstands universities.

I work for a university. One, and only one, of my duties to the university is to teach students. Students pay the university for the privilege of being taught by me. But I set the terms. And those terms include being prepared, taking part in discussion, doing one's share for the common good of the inquiring community. You fuck with that, damn straight I will call you on it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm liking her more than I thought.

Being late for class, disturbing the rest of the students who bothered to show up on time...you should be smacked.

There is no excuse for coming unprepared and wasting everyone's time.

Not to mention wasting the money of (probably) your parents.

Humiliation is too good for idiot students like these. What do they think the corporate world or the rest of the world is going to do. Kiss their asses because they are so "special". Sorry kiddies. The real world does NOT work that way.

Good for Kagan.

Beth said...

I don't humiliate students, but I do stop and wait when someone comes in late. It's disruptive, and disrespectful to everyone who managed to get there on time. And Palladian's right - if you don't deal with it, it spreads. People will trickle in for the first twenty minutes if you don't have a policy and enforce it. My door is shut five minutes after class begins and I do not allow anyone in after that.

I've noticed over time that people who are consistently late are self-centered. They like making other people wait.

Beth said...

"I bet someone like Obama would never be treated like that and you know why."

I don't know what you mean - explain, please.

bagoh20 said...

While it should be expected that a student be prepared, wasting time proving that they are not is ripping off the rest of those present. It should simply affect that student's grade. The Professor should note the unpreparedness and move on. The rest is likely petty power playing and only transfers the student's failing to the rest who are ready and waiting for her to get on with it.

Freeman Hunt said...

I am 100% with rhhardin on this.

Attempt to humiliate your client? Interesting approach.

I hated professors that tried to humiliate people for whatever reason, and on at least one occasion, I rudely interrupted one to draw his ire my way and off of the stuttering man he was humiliating.

I'm not into the supposedly conservative idea that teachers acting like jackasses are awesome. Strict with high expectations = excellent. Power tripping = jackass.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you don't like people being late, why not lock the door and not open it for latecomers? If they want to come, they can come on time.

Also, at least in my experience, late people weren't disruptive unless the professor made it so. Sounds like Kagan loved to make it so.

bagoh20 said...

OK Beth,

I think you already know this but, most liberal or any professors would never purposely embarrass a young black man in that situation, the "soft bigotry of low expectations". The rare conservative would not either for fear of being labeled cruel by those who follow that doctrine.

Penny said...

The irony of the internet...

A former student "Speaks Out!"

.... while watching that BITCH of a teacher, who OBTW never "understood a gosh darned thing"... about me. ME!

WTF?

Beth said...

I agree with you, Freeman; wasting other students' time is rude as well. I often find that if a student is unprepared once when I call on her, she is prepared the next time. I'd rather encourage students than discourage them. Besides, a few pop quizzes early on in the semester usually leads to students having the reading done ahead of time.

Bob Ellison said...

Beth said: "I've noticed over time that people who are consistently late are self-centered. They like making other people wait."

I've noticed that teachers who make a big deal out of coming in five minutes late (which can be discreetly done, and is absolutely routine out here in the real world) are self-centered.

Beth said...

Ok, bagoh,

That's crap. I know this from experience. In the classroom. With black, male students. Where do you get your insight?

Beth said...

Bob must have gotten popped a few times for strolling in late.

Freeman Hunt said...

Yes. See, Beth knows how to do it. You don't have to be some professorial diva. Show up late, can't get in. Come unprepared, fail a quiz. Reward the good, punish the bad, same effect, and nobody has to act like a jackass.

EDH said...

"Here's a dime... um, a quarter... uh, use my cell phone... Call your mother. Tell her there's serious doubt about your becoming a lawyer."

Peter V. Bella said...

I spent thirty years sitting in court rooms waiting to testify. From the bottom of the Chicago legal barrel- traffic court to major criminal courts and even Federal courts.

One thing I learned. Judges hate lawyers who are late and loath lawyers who are unprepared. I have seen judges publicly humiliate attorneys. I have heard them shouting and berating them while in chambers- the voices carrying over into the courtroom.

It appears Kagan was preparing students for the real world.

Beth said...

Freeman, not all rooms have locking doors. I have at most 30 students in my classroom. The first five minutes are usually spent laying out the agenda for the class. Someone coming in when lecture or discussion has started is indeed disruptive. My policies are in writing, handed out on day one, and thus all students are forewarned. They can change sections the first week if they think that's unfair.

Bob Ellison said...

Beth, actually, no. I was pretty careful and never got popped for strolling in late.

But I was shocked by how different the real world worked. When I worked, before, during, and after college, things mattered. In college, the Professor's ego was sometimes paramount. (Not always-- I had only a few lousy ones, and mostly good to great ones.)

The point I'm trying to get across is that I hate hate hate this Kingsleyesque humiliation routine. Why do teachers do it? They make themselves small thereby. Its porpoise is to show how high and mighty the teacher is.

Avierra said...

@ Bagoh2

Elie Mystal is black.

somefeller said...

bagoh20 says: I think you already know this but, most liberal or any professors would never purposely embarrass a young black man in that situation, the "soft bigotry of low expectations". The rare conservative would not either for fear of being labeled cruel by those who follow that doctrine.

If you click through to the article Althouse is talking about, you'll see the person being embarrassed here is, wait for it, a young black man. As those crazy kids say on the internets these days, epic fail.

Kevin said...

I think you already know this but, most liberal or any professors would never purposely embarrass a young black man in that situation

LOL. Would it help if you were told that the person relating the anecdote was a "young black man"?

Beth said...

Ha, Freeman! It's not that I don't want to go off on a student once in awhile, but it's just not the best approach. And I wouldn't enjoy being the cranky English instructor. Life is to be enjoyed.

hubby said...

It's Kingsfield, not Kingsley.

And there are a few law students out there who actually LIKE professors who set high standards and have low tolerance for the "I'm too cool for law school" slacktard attitude that far too many of the 1L children seem to think is mandatory.

It's not about being a gunner. It's about not wasting their time and your money.

Bob Ellison said...

*differently, I guess

"gloin" was my word verification this time...hmm...

bagoh20 said...

I respect and will bow to your experience, but it's difficult for me to believe that those who support affirmative action, which most professors and administrators do, would feel as comfortable coming down hard on a black student as a white one, publicly. You may disagree, but I would ask you to think about it. There are a lot of things you can do or say to a white student that you cannot to a black one, especially a male. It's now a social more. It's condescending and unfortunate because it's either insulting or an excuse depending on the character of the student.

Or I'm completely wrong and professors never even consider such things, unlike the rest of us.

Beth said...

Bob, I don't defend humiliating students. I'm explaining why students strolling in late is not allowed in my class. I don't humiliate anyone, I just explain the policy, and enforce it. I came to that by failing to have clear rules, early on. And it frustrated me, created a stop-start atmosphere and wasted the first quarter of class. People like to know what's expected of them. They tend to live up to standards.

Kevin said...

The point I'm trying to get across is that I hate hate hate this Kingsleyesque humiliation routine. Why do teachers do it

Because these people are being trained to be lawyers, and the Real World is extraordinarily harsh on lawyers who show up late and unprepared.

Think of it as vocational training....

somefeller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

Kagan was making sure her students would be ready when their turn came up to the plate.

somefeller said...

Kagan sounds harsher than the average HLS lawprof (the Kingsfield method isn't dominant there anymore), but it's important for law students to be kept on their toes, and to prevent them from having too much of a sense of entitlement.

One of the tougher profs I had was my first year Contracts professor. He was a hard grader, and was known as the "Admiral of the High C's". When a student asked him about his nickname in class, he said: "Yes, I am a challenging grader. Most if not all of you here have gotten straight As all of your lives. Welcome to the world most people live in." That provided some encouragement to study.

Palladian said...

I think you're right, Beth. And people who say it can be done discreetly: bull. There is no way to slip in late without interrupting the class. And I can't lock the door because our classroom doors don't lock. Taking 10 seconds to admonish a student who has already disrupted the class isn't wasting people's time. Creating an environment where people drool in late all the time and never do their work, that is wasting the student's time.

If you show up five minutes late in the "real world", you often get fired. If you're a lawyer, try showing up five minutes late to court.

bagoh20 said...

Somefeller, I'll take your word for it and accept my failure in this case and even give Kagan props for it. My bad here, but I do think what I'm saying often true. I just know too many cases of people who walk on eggshells treating people different based on skin color, who are not different in any other way. I hope a black president make that complete. Again: here today, it's my fail. I bow humbly.

Spooky WV: "defeater" Even they know?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Here is the irony.

The tactics that Kagan uses to whip her students (recruits) into line are very similar to those used by the military.

The very same military that she banned from campus.

I find this rather humorous

Bob Ellison said...

Beth, understood. Your policies make sense: you set rules. That's the way the world works, and people actually like and respond to that.

I just don't like the teacher-centered view that this (the original post's) description of Kagan describes. That teacher should probably not be trusted with the relatively soft minds of 20-something-year-olds, any more than Donald Trump should be.

Kevin, I've not gone to law school, but good gracious almighty, I've had it up to here (holding my non-typing hand a foot over my head) with lawyers complaining about how they have to deal with filings and deadlines and they have it harder than the rest. Lawyers are late, often, stupidly. It's not OK, but it's normal, just as it is for salespeople, doctors, janitors, and the rest. Lawyers really need to get off the high horse.

bagoh20 said...

Since I didn't check the story first to make sure before I dove in the shallow end, I guess I would be that student getting embarrassed. I never did my homework.

holdfast said...

Elie Mystal's a dude?!?!

I've been reading ATL for years and I did not know that.

How is it that one of Harvard's "best and brightest" is a mediocre writer on a law gossip blog instead of working in government, at a law school or in private practice? I mean, ok, Lat started ATL, so he's an entrepreneur, but Mystal is just a hired hand, and not a very good one at that. So much for the Hah-Vad elite.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Its porpoise is to show how high and mighty the teacher is.

No Bob, the purpose is the prepare these coddled eggs for the real world wherein, if you are rude, late, disrespectful, unprepared and INCOMPETENT....you get fired.


Sorry that it hurts their wittle feelings. Life is tough...suck it up and get better.

Bob From Ohio said...

Its just school. Not court. Kagan was not doing her other students students any good. Just frown and move on.

After 1st quarter in law school, I hardly ever read the cases. Why bother, the professors never liked anyone's answers. I just faked it when called on, reading as I answered. Most cases have summaries.

Its just law, easy to fake if you are reasonably bright. Good preparation for thinking on your feet.

Most law professors couldn't teach a square to have 4 sides. The few good ones would use a bad answer as well, if not better, as a good answer to make their point.

edutcher said...

Was I ever late for class? Sure, a few times. The prof has a five minute walk, some of her students have to drive halfway across town and occasionally encounter such real world phenomena as traffic jams or motorcades of politicians shilling for a few votes. Especially so when stuff like snow and ice is involved.

Ms. Kagan's behavior sounds more like a tantrum than teaching. I wonder if she was wearing black leather when she pulled this sort of thing?

Ann Althouse said...

I either rely on volunteers or call on students and add "sorry to bother you" or something like that (which I mean humorously, but only semi-humorously).

You have a kind heart.

PS The Blonde, when she was going for her BSN, had one Kagan type who bragged about how many students she flunked. She wasn't that good as a teacher and never had any real world experience nursing.

Similar?

Could be.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

After 1st quarter in law school, I hardly ever read the cases. Why bother, the professors never liked anyone's answers. I just faked it when called on, reading as I answered. Most cases have summaries.

Note to self......do not hire Bob from Ohio. (probably uses SPAM in his chili too)

How would you like to hire a plubmer who felt that it was just a waste of time to learn the shit (pun intended) that was pertinent to his JOB?

Seriously...why bother learning how to sweat pipe so it doesn't leak. Just fake it. That water inside your walls...means nothing.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

----->or hire a plumber. Plubmers don't know jack.

holdfast said...

Law school is about more than just the material. Poise under fire is important, because at some point you WILL be called on to defend your work in an ugly situation, whether in a court, in a boardroom or in a partner's office. If you don't arrive at law school with this skill, you better learn it (I personally recommend the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battleschool as a good place to learn, but YMMV.

That said, unless you are a chronic keener, you will at some point get caught out not having done all the reading - that's just life, and how you handle it reveals a lot. Personally I would keep a copy of an old course summary handy just in case - maybe it wasn't perfect, but it was enough to get me out of a jam.

somefeller said...

bagoh20 - Nicely put. Lots of people don't acknowledge mistakes in combox discussions, and it's good of you to do so. On to the next point.

Beth said...

But bagoh, at least you're on time.


holdfast: "So much for the Hah-Vad elite."

Back when I was a cook, my fry cook was a Harvard MBA having a few lost years in the French Quarter.

Revenant said...

I had some professors who acted like this, although I don't think I was ever a target of their ire. I remember being annoyed that the prof was wasting classroom time (for which I was paying around $28/hr) just to embarrass a student in front of the class. But, eh, as professorial prima donna behavior goes I guess it isn't that bad...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I remember being annoyed that the prof was wasting classroom time (for which I was paying around $28/hr) just to embarrass a student in front of the class

Why were you not annoyed at the student who was the cause of the problem?

Freeman Hunt said...

How is it the late student's fault that the professor is having the idiomatic cow? Student shouldn't be late; there should be consequences, but anything like that described of Kagan is a huge waste of time and not the late student's fault.

Note: This is assuming that the incident happened as described.

Flexo said...

Wow. Quite a few authoritarian jerk professors here with delusions of godhood. You think your obnoxious behavior and bullying in laying down the law engenders respect?

Ha. Your little exercises in power only prove you to be small. Very small.

If you wanted respect, you should have kept your mouth shut and not bragged about how much of a jerk you are, solely because you have the power and the student does not.

Arrogant pricks.

Flexo said...

And no, such a dressing down never happened to me.

But it does demonstrate that Kagan is wholly lacking in judicial temperament (she doesn't meet any other qualification, so why should we expect her to meet this one??).

Slow Joe said...

I like Kagan more for this.

This kind of crap should be fun for students. Hard questions, and antagonistic professor, etc. I know a lot of students took that shit seriously, but they were idiots to do so. It's not a big deal that your professor is 'hitting' you, ya douchebag.

Do your best, and don't even show up if you're going to be late or not prepared. It's not really a big deal.

My favorite professors were the ones who had the balls to act like a drill sergeant, just a bit, in 1L classes. They build it all up to be this big hard trial, and it really was more like Althouse's approach, most of the time, than Kagans.

Another thing I like about Kagan: she keeps her private life private. I don't give a crap if she's a virgin or a lesbo or a slut. It's private, and has no bearing on her judicial record. Her best decisions and worst decisions as a judge should be scrutinized to ensure she has the chops to handle appeals, has the best judicial temperance, and can handle the responsibility of being at the very top of a branch of government for the remainder of her life... many decades.

Oh, what's that? She has zero experience? Well, fuck.

Bob From Ohio said...

"How would you like to hire a plubmer who felt that it was just a waste of time to learn the shit (pun intended) that was pertinent to his JOB? "

Law school doesn't teach you much about being a lawyer. Once you learn how to read a case, (that takes maybe a month or two, depending on how smart you are), you are about done. The substance of most law school classes is worthless to the practice of law.

I do transactional real estate work. There is no class to train you in that. Property class in law school teach you about concepts such as estate in fee tail and covenant of seisen and the Rule in Shelly's Case. Trust me, those things never come up in the real world.

Law school is just something you need to do to become a lawyer. It is a device to limit the number of lawyers.

Seven Machos said...

Bob -- You're an idiot I don't want working on any deal of mine if you don't think the crucible of stress that is law school didn't prepare you for the stress of dealing with clients who want their impossible transactions transacted right now.

bagoh20 said...

"Law school is just something you need to do to become a lawyer. It is a device to limit the number of lawyers. "

It's not working.

I keep hearing there are too many lawyers and they can't find work, but every time I need one, they want $250 - $300 an hour. What happened to supply and demand limiting price. None of them are ever busy either. I can come in right now and talk to them with no one waiting ahead of me.

We need Walmart to open a legal department.

Andrea said...

I am shocked that no one has formed a Committee to protest Ms. Kagan's bigotry towards Latist-Americans.

David said...

The lesson was lost on Elie Mystal. Harvard and Deveboise. Wow.

Slow Joe said...

I guess y'all have heard that Kagan is now the unprepared asshole student who refuses to answer questions?

Apparently she takes her interview from a staffer lackey, and refuses to talk to the press.

But refuses to give the American people or journalists their due. Such a hardass in the classroom shouldn't be a total chickenshit about refusing to give a real interview, or lying about interviews (which is what it means to post a fake interview on the White House website and refuse to name the interviewer at all, pretending it's not your employee.

She's a radical. Stevens was too, in my eyes, and I knew Obama wont he election and this is what that's about.

I wonder if I'll be crowing that she's so unpersuasive, or crying that she turned out to be a nutjob. I think a little of both. Oh well, the hubris of a smart professor demanding preparation, and then being a total wimp, is rich.

garage mahal said...

Elana Kagan. NO EMPATHY

Sheesh!

Palladian said...

"And no, such a dressing down never happened to me."

Probably because you never went to college.

So you have a problem with enforcing rules? Rules which are absolutely necessary to ensure that the majority of the students in the class, students who prepare and arrive on time, don't have the class ruined by a lack of discipline and a few losers?

None of the techniques of dealing with class disruption described by the professors and teachers here sounds in any way authoritarian, obnoxious or bullying.

You and your wilting violet compatriots seem to want extra credit and an apology for starting class on time issued to disruptive students. Get over it. Many of the problems we have in America are at their root caused by coddling miscreants and losers.

Alex said...

Good lesson to learn. Lateness is the surest sign of disrespect and should not be tolerated. Go Elena!!!!!

Ah, being tough in the classroom = the ultimate qualification for SCOTUS. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

reader_iam said...

To this day, I smile every time when I think of the professor of mine who, before each exam, said: "Ready, sports fans?"

He was rather a bear about tardiness, too.
--
Also, he tended to wear his academic robes (from his "little Ivy") on exam days at my state school. This was long ago, but it was great fun. At least, I found it so.

And, to this day--as I already said--I smile every time I think of him.

Alex said...

Hey I appreciate professors who crack down on tardiness, but let's not lose sight of the main issue here. Kagan's a leftie hack and does not belong on the SCOTUS. Give me another 8 Scalias/Borks.

reader_iam said...

But what I really admire most about that prof relates to the battle that ensued when, as things happen, he and the majority of the Faculty Senate at the time ended up being on opposite sides of various student groups at the time regarding a controversy over whether "The Opening of Misty Beethoven" ought be permitted to be viewed on campus.

Skyler said...

The dirty secret of law school is that the lectures are largely irrelevant. There is far too much material being tested than can possibly be covered in a few hours of talking and student participation only subtracts from that time. You have to learn almost everything on your own anyway.

Add to that the reality that most professors are good at writing and research and not teaching.

Skyler said...

If the professor, who is usually wasting my time prattling on at the podium, wants to get all upset at some unprepared student, I figure that's just more evidence that the professor doesn't have anything worth saying.

I know that professors love to go on and on about how class participation is so important to the learning process, but I never found that to be the case.

Learning in any subject is an individual effort.

holdfast said...

Skyler - well, Kagan has done a minuscule amount of writing, so she better be good in the classroom.

Actually, she sounds like the sort of Prof that I enjoyed - sort of reminds me of my first year Contracts Prof - a total west coast hippy hiding out from the real world, and a great teacher, god rest his atheist soul.

Seven Machos said...

In the second semester of Con Law, everybody just sort of stopped going to class, me included. Except I did show up one day for some reason. Maybe 30 percent of the class was there. The lecture was all about state action.

Boy was I glad I showed up that day, too, because the exam was just this mess of facts that nothing seemed to apply to. Except, after I thought about it for a real long time...state action.

Kev said...

No Bob, the purpose is the prepare these coddled eggs for the real world wherein, if you are rude, late, disrespectful, unprepared and INCOMPETENT....you get fired.

Unless you're a unionized government worker, I suppose...

Kev said...

But what I really admire most about that prof relates to the battle that ensued when, as things happen, he and the majority of the Faculty Senate at the time ended up being on opposite sides of various student groups at the time regarding a controversy over whether "The Opening of Misty Beethoven" ought be permitted to be viewed on campus.

Heh. That one played for quite a while when I was in school, but at a theatre about eight blocks from campus. The name of that theatre, incidentally, was "The Fine Arts." It didn't always show porn, but we laughed at the irony. (And now, BTW, that building houses a church.)

slarrow said...

I'm just not impressed by this back-and-forth in a law class. It seems appropriate in a high school classroom; I always thought the social element of high school called for more dressings-down of class clowns. But that's what I found refreshing about college: that kind of nonsense was left behind, and if you wanted to get the knowledge, it was there. If you didn't, well, it's your own throat you're cutting, so knock yourself out. If I witnessed this conversation, I imagine I would have tired of it very quickly.

Oh, and a note on lateness: I had a couple of professors teach me something that did equate to real-world preparation. Namely, that while a boss really cares that you arrive on time, it's not such a big deal that you get to leave on time. Have a couple of those kinds of professors back to back, and it can make for an irritating semester.

reader_iam said...

I must be clear: The true story I told part way here is an undergraduate one. I can't speak to law school.

Seven Machos said...

Gee, Slarrow, only the entire premise of legal education revolved around back and forth between professors and students. I think there's a name for it. It's like a Way or Something. Some philosopher's name is attached. It's all on the tip of my tongue...

vnjagvet said...

If I were a Senator, I'd vote against Ms. Kagan because I disagree with what I believe is her well-documented hard-left, statist philosophy.

I also believe that she will be confirmed and will be as good a Justice as Stevens or Sotomayor or Ginsberg or Souter.

But I think more of her after reading this vignette. Nearly 50 years ago, I had a very distinguished professor who was goaded to a similar approach. My 1L Contracts professor taught using only the classic Socratic method, based on a very few cases in Corbin's classic casebook.

At the beginning of the year, he made clear that lawyers must be prepared, and that classroom participation would be 25% of our grade. The first couple of classes, he was quite tolerant of the occasional unprepared student, but when he began to run into a rash of unprepared students, he warned us that there would be consequences if that level of poor preparation happened again.

In the next class, he called on a hapless fellow who answered a question with the dreaded "I'm sorry, sir, but I'm unprepared". The professor, in a kind and and gentle voice, replied: " That's ok, Mr. _____, we'll wait". And he did. For 20 minutes (it was a four page case). He then repeated the question to the student, who then answered with a comment at least somewhat on point to the question asked. The Professor went on with his Socratic dialogue making the points he wanted to make without missing a beat.

The Professor was Curtis R. Reitz. He was then only about 10 years older than the students he was teaching. At age 81, he still holds the Algernon Sydney Biddle endowed chair at Penn, and is today considered one of the finest and most beloved professors in the history of that school.

I never forgot the lesson he taught that day. I have passed it on to several hundred lawyers who have worked with me over the years. My classmates still mention it at reunions as one of the more important lessons in professionalism they were ever taught. It didn't hurt our understanding of Contracts either.

Chip Ahoy said...

This story warms the cockles, the mussels, the clams, and the oysters of my heart.

reader_iam said...

Chip: Yeah. Still, I'm thinking anchovies.

El Pollo Real said...

This story warms the cockles, the mussels, the clams, and the oysters of my heart.

shellfish, yet cordial.

Slow Joe said...

"Oh you teach yourself everything in law school anyway"

Socratic method is more than just learning how to handle an oral exchange under pressure.

A good teacher will change the rules you learned, in a hypo, to see if you can continue to do what lawyers do: apply a bunch of different rules to a changing situation. It's one thing to learn the outcomes of many events that have already happened, but a good exam and a good professor will provide new rules you didn't prepare for, so that lawyers have the ability to analyze and think about law on their own.

That's the real value of hiding the ball. It's also fun. I was wrong all the time in school, and I never made a big deal out of looking smart, since I knew I was in a room of very smart people and not fooling anybody. But I was prepared and I did my best and took it in good humor when I was asked a question I struggled with.

And boy did I love it when that syllabus told me there was a major 'being prepared' aspect to my final grade. I needed that more than once.

Revenant said...

Why were you not annoyed at the student who was the cause of the problem?

The problem was that the professors decided to throw temper tantrums instead of teaching me. If the professor in question was, say, 5 years old I might blame the person who "caused" the tantrum. But they were adults, so I blame them.

Revenant said...

No Bob, the purpose is the prepare these coddled eggs for the real world wherein, if you are rude, late, disrespectful, unprepared and INCOMPETENT....you get fired.

In my workplace, you'd be more likely to get fired for acting like the professor did.

If someone's late and unprepared, you move on and speak to them in private about their failure to perform. You don't rip them a new one in front of everyone. The only people who can get away with that sort of bullshit are the upper management types who answer to nobody.

Everybody screws up sometimes. Humiliating a person in public might make you feel like you've got the biggest dick in the room, but at the end of the day you've still got to work with everyone else. And none of them are going to want to work with an asshole.

Seven Machos said...

Rev -- You miss the entire point of law school. At every one, part of the education is showing up prepared. This is especially, especially so first year.

It's just not like an undergraduate class or a real job. For better or for worse, law school is this different animal.

What Kagan did is par for the course in law school, as you can see by reading all these law-school grads chiming in so fondly about their favorite battle ax.

Palladian said...

You've never run a classroom, Revenant.

Thank goodness.

reader_iam said...

Everybody screws up sometimes. Humiliating a person in public might make you feel like you've got the biggest dick...

Not at all surprised you embrace the value of not doing such a thing offline. Based on that, not at all surprised you'd encourage someone online to embrace the same value (of not doing such a thing) off line.

On the other hand, you son of a bitch, online you think nothing of humiliating people publicly for whatever reason or none at all, at your whim. And the thought that people--being people--might just have screwed up either never enters your mind, or only does so to illuminate a path for you to attack.

Here's my take on it: Revenant, you do have one of the biggest dicks. Now what?

Revenant said...

You've never run a classroom, Revenant.

Yes, I have.

And if you think shaming students in front of the class is a necessary part of the process, it is obvious you've confused "teaching" with "posturing".

Revenant said...

Rev -- You miss the entire point of law school. At every one, part of the education is showing up prepared. This is especially, especially so first year.

I haven't missed the point at all, Seven.

Yes, the student showed up unprepared, thereby depriving his classmates of whatever insights he might have had.

The professor could have responded to this by either:

(a) Moving on, and calling on somebody who was prepared for class, or

(b) Wasting even more of the students' time by insisting the delinquent student read the material on the spot and offer his thoughts.

Obviously (b) feels good. But (a) is what is best for the students.

Revenant said...

Here's my take on it: Revenant, you do have one of the biggest dicks. Now what?

I'm not objecting to publicly destroying people who annoy you, reader. Obviously I do that, too. My objection is to wasting the time of people who are paying for an education, not for front row seats at Law Student Beatdown 2010. :)

Beth said...

And if you think shaming students in front of the class is a necessary part of the process, it is obvious you've confused "teaching" with "posturing".

and

I'm not objecting to publicly destroying people who annoy you, reader. Obviously I do that, too. My objection is to wasting the time of people who are paying for an education

You're doing both, Rev, depending on who you respond to. (I'd add a cheeky little emoticon here but I never have figured those out.)

Seven Machos said...

Schools are not businesses. Really, they're not.It's not a consumer transaction. That's not the model at all.

If you are looking for that, though, Phoenix University is accredited.

Revenant said...

Points for the Python link, Beth, but if anyone here is paying me to comment here I must have misplace the check. :)

Seven Machos said...

Also, Rev, all this talk above about judges tearing into you (and, not mentioned, the other side taking advantage of you) is true.

There is definitely something for everyone else to learn watching another student getting reamed for being unprepared. It's a very valuable lesson for an aspiring attorney for every student involved.

Chip Ahoy said...

My biology professor's cowboy boots were always immaculately shinned. She wore her white t-shirt tucked in with a pack of Marlboros rolled up in a sleeve. Her wallet was attached with a chain to a belt loop of her jeans. I might have made up a part about cigarettes but the point is, she was the compact and corpulent sort -- in short, a delicate flower.

She said first off to the auditorium filled with students, "Don't be afraid to ask a question. Any question. There's no such thing as a stupid question."

I pity the silly soul who asked a question that revealed she hadn't read the text. She was an attractive girl, as I recall. Instead of answering, the professor then addressed the class of at least one hundred students, "When I said there was no such thing as a stupid question, that assumes you bothered to read the assignment." Then she moved on. The girl shrank inside her shoe. See, that girl had wasted everybody's time with her nonsense.

Then one day I asked a question about photosynthesis. Everything we learned, every word in the book had to do with how a plant uses its leaves use light energy to create carbohydrate molecules. My question had to do with how the plant grew before it had a leaf to do any of that. A pall fell over the professor's visage that resembled the look preceding the takedown of the unprepared girl. I thought in that moment, "oh shit, she's going to really give it to me." Mustering all the patience available to her, she carefully explained as if speaking to an idiot that the plant wisely endowed the seed with sufficient energy to break through the soil and produce the first leaf. And I'm all, "oh."

Seven Machos said...

WHERE'S GOTH ALTHOUSE?

Revenant said...

Schools are not businesses. Really, they're not.It's not a consumer transaction. That's not the model at all.

Well, sure. The model is that I gave them money, and they did whatever they felt like for four years, at the end of which I was given a diploma that allowed me to get a job, which in turn allowed me to actually began learning useful things.

At the time, however, I thought I was in college to learn. So it annoyed me when the professors acted like students existed solely to stroke professorial egos. Had I realized that I was just checking off the "has college education" box on my future resume, I'd probably have had an entirely different attitude towards the whole thing. :)

reader_iam said...

Every once in a while, someone ends up coming right out with it: You got it!

Slow Joe said...

why is it assumed that students lost valuable teaching time because the teacher made an example of a student?

I would think that a long and tedious lesson here would prevent many other students from being unprepared. These students, out of fear, are better prepared in the future. They don't fall behind, which is easy to do with law school readings, and they are better off because of the rare occasion of humiliating a student.

Seven Machos said...

Law school humiliation beats court humiliation and saves everybody money and time. I can't believe Rev isn't praising these professors for lowering the high cost of government.

reader_iam said...

Who cares what games we choose.

Revenant said...

I can't believe Rev isn't praising these professors for lowering the high cost of government.

Well, Seven, I don't consider obsequiousness towards authority to be a vital part of our government. :)

Bob Ellison said...

Yeah, what Revenant said. DBQ, do you your dust bunnies exist? I ask because people with your attitude fail, especially in the present economy.

The real world deals with real people. Five minutes of lateness do not merit firing. That's the real world.

info said...

I say good for Kagan...teachers who are too "uncomfortable" to call out unprepared students produce poorly educated students who vote for obama because he makes them FEEL good....

Skyler said...

Some very smart people get degrees from the University of Phoenix, Macho, don't knock it.

It's amusing to read how so many people think that bullying is a part of teaching and that this is the only way a lawyer learns how to be prepared for a future job.

Let me tell you this: I've worked a lot more years in very stressful settings where real life is involved and mistakes cost lives. I don't need some academician to teach me a lesson about work ethics.

paul a'barge said...

someone watched that John Houseman movie ...

just sayin' ...

Clyde said...

And now we know why she's still single...

WV: forust: Shu can't suu thu forust for thu truus.

Hoosier Daddy said...

That takes guts. I salute her!

Huh? It takes guts to be in a position of authority to embarass and berate someone because they were late? I bet it takes...oh whats the word...courage too.

LarsPorsena said...

"Let me tell you this: I've worked a lot more years in very stressful settings where real life is involved and mistakes cost lives. I don't need some academician to teach me a lesson about work ethics."

Of course but you and I have had a DI or Drill Sergeant teach us about
'punctuality' and 'being prepared'.

Pogo said...

The book The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't by Stanford professor Robert Sutton, explored this issue as it pertains to the real-world outcome of this sort of behavior in business.

An asshole is recognized by these factors:
"1. After encountering the person, do people feel oppressed, humiliated or otherwise worse about themselves?
2. Does the person target people who are less powerful than themself?
"

He presented data that demonstrated how such behavior is bad for business, by reducing morale and productivity.

This raises the question whether that approach in law school is good for their business, or good for the citizens who must deal with lawyers created under its methods.

Hoosier Daddy said...

The only person that has a right to give you crap for being late is your boss. Anyone else can stuff it as far as I'm concerned.

I was pretty fortunate in college in that most of my profs could care less if you came to class or came to class late. A few though felt that coming late was some personal affront to them. The way I see it, the profs job is to lecture the course material not try an instill punctuality. Let them figure it out in the real world where it really matters.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I don't humiliate students, but I do stop and wait when someone comes in late. It's disruptive, and disrespectful to everyone who managed to get there on time.

IMO if your lecture is interesting and informative to the class, its more distruptive to halt in mid-sentence to wait for the student that no one else noticed walking in late.

Its also possible the difference I experienced is that I went to an extension college of IU where 90% of the students also worked and commuted to school. Kind of hard to come down on a student for being late when you're stuck in traffic on I 80-94 cause some semi jackknifed. Maybe the slackers at residence colleges are just lazy so maybe you have a point.

AllenS said...

Kagan today, sounds like a real ass-kicker. Amazing. Yesterday she was an air head, now this.

carly said...

Summary of the situation:

Affirmative action admit to Harvard Law School (proud of his inferiority and privileged status as a "minority" who graduates and declines to pay back his student loans) brags about not caring about learning anything and about not doing the work for Kagan's class. He tells her he just isn't interested in her class after which she displays her pandering racist approach to life in an attempt to motivate him. (then gives him a B in her class rather than the C-or F-he deserved)

LarsPorsena said...

@Carly:

You've hit it after 140 posts.

Steve said...

I had the benefit of going to law school at night. All of the night students worked full time and dragged ourselves to class from 6-10PM four nights a week. We were older and wiser than the average law student. Treating one of us like this decidedly did not work.

There was one Evidence Prof that used this style of teaching. He never taught at night. We had 4 years we could always wait till next semester.

The best professor I had during my law school career had spent a life time in appellate litigation, had written the book (literally) and was soft spoken and unfailingly polite. Everyone showed up for his class prepared (even if we didn't have time to prepare for the other class that night) and on time. Not because he would humiliate you if you weren't but because we would be embarrassed to show less enthusiasm for the topic than he did. He didn't command respect he earned it.

knox said...

In my experience, it's usually the same students who come shuffling in late, over and over again.

I always thought profs should scold the repeat offenders: "Other students are paying for this course. Your behavior is disrespectful and disruptive. If you can't get here on time from now on, don't come at all."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"No Bob, the purpose is the prepare these coddled eggs for the real world wherein, if you are rude, late, disrespectful, unprepared and INCOMPETENT....you get fired"

In my workplace, you'd be more likely to get fired for acting like the professor did.


In my workplace, I'm the boss. If you act like this, you do get reprimanded and reminded of your job duties. If it happens to be in front of other employees....tough shit. That means that they all learned a lesson without being late or screwing off themselves.

If you continue to flaunt the rules and treat me and my clients with disrespect.....find another job.

In my business mistakes and sloppy work costs money. Lots of money and maybe even ruin people's lives.

I would assume it to be the same as a lawyer. The 'tough love' treatment is meant to make you aware, prepared and keep you from fucking up.

TosaGuy said...

The student can destroy that approach by simply showing good-spirited confidence instead of embarrassment (snarly and defensive confidence will only hurt the student's position).

If the student does that, then the teacher loses the respect of everyone in the class.

Bob From Ohio said...

"Bob -- You're an idiot I don't want working on any deal of mine if you don't think the crucible of stress that is law school didn't prepare you for the stress of dealing with clients who want their impossible transactions transacted right now."

Please, "crucible of stress". It is stressful mainly because the students stress themselves out.

First quarter is a shock but once you adjust, it is just school. I was a calm person before law school and remain one. Law

Lawyers like to pretend that law school is some hideous "crucible of stress" but that is just rube bait in my opinion. It isn't true unless you let it be.

Ask Skyler if law school was a "crucible of stress" compared to where he is.

MadisonMan said...

I usually give quizzes first thing in class. If you miss the quiz, you can't make it up.

Dangling a carrot in front of a student is really very easy.

TosaGuy said...

"She started quoting Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked, about how rules were the key to defending the rights of minority populations in this country. It was a compelling argument."

Good instructors do this at the beginning of class -- provide relevance -- not after a situation forces an office visit.

But what do I know, I only have a degree in education and taught in the military for 4 years.

Oligonicella said...

Seven Machos --

"Schools are not businesses. Really, they're not.It's not a consumer transaction. That's not the model at all."

Really? Then what's with all that money transferred into the school's account?

The Crack Emcee said...

I like how those who think this is "jerk behavior" seem to miss that the less of it we have the more things go to shit. (I'm sorry but you folks aren't that smart.) And the tendency to not focus on the cause of the disruption - the late, unprepared, student - simply because the teacher's in a position of authority, a designation which, alone, seems to bother some people, mostly because it's being exercised. I mean, it's just liberal claptrap.

I could go on, but I'd waste too many of you pussies time, telling you you're intellectually "late", and what wimps you all are. Not to mention, like most pussies, "I'd hit that", and then there'd be little Cracks running all over the place, trapping the late, disrespectful, don't want to learn, inconsiderate assholes right where a jerk like me wants them:

Back to fucking class, you morons.

HDHouse said...

If anyone here is a professional musician or was a performing music student in college or conservatory that one thing you never ever ever ever did was come late.

You always showed up and you were always early. No exceptions never ever.

So what is the beef here?

knox said...

Not to mention, like most pussies, "I'd hit that"

"Like most" ???? You wish!

holdfast said...

Rev is apparently unfamiliar with the phrase "pour encourager les autres" - what Kagan did is the law school equivalent of having the entire platoon do pushups while Pvt Pyle eats his doughnut. For those of use who got to experience the real thing, the law school version was mostly amusing.

If you're not five minutes early to mark your map, you're late.

Skyler said...

Please, "crucible of stress". It is stressful mainly because the students stress themselves out.

Exactly. It's just school. Law schools are nothing more than a gateway to a regulatorily protected job, and they have no need to actually teach you how to do that job or pretty much anything else. Upper tier schools can do away with attendance requirements and even grades and still populate most of the US Supreme Court, but lower schools have to kow tow to the accrediting organizations.

HDHouse, I think the difference is that in musical performance you're actually doing something useful in your classes. In law school, not so much.

former law student said...

I hate hate hate this Kingsleyesque humiliation routine. Why do teachers do it?

Because their teachers did it ad infinitum (or at least back to the mid-19th Century). Why should you have it easier than they did? It's 1L's equivalent of bootcamp -- the sort of hazing that accompanies entrance to many new things.

But most law teachers are quite mellow these days. Where I went, 1Ls could not pick their teachers; the administration did that. Our section had one hard-ass (surviving his class was a point of honor, although few who had a choice took his other classes), one softie, and the rest in the middle.

The secret to being unprepared is to raise your hand frequently in the beginning of the term. The professor will soon tire of hearing your voice, and call exclusively on members of the silent majority.

Seven Machos said...

Skyler -- Are you speaking of the military? Certainly, no one does anything like what law profs do in the military, particularly in the early phases. Right?

And I'll belittle the University of Phoenix all I want, schmuck.

Seven Machos said...

I rewrote it for you, Skyler: It's just the military. Boot camps are nothing more than a gateway to a regulatorily protected job, and they have no need to actually teach you how to do that job or pretty much anything else. Navy Seals can do away with attendance requirements and even push ups and still populate most of the elitist military units, but lower organizations like the Air Force have to kow tow to the burueacrats.

I also love how upper-tier school graduates populate "most of the Supreme Court." That was a priceless little gem.

Dawnfire82 said...

"That takes guts. I salute her!"

No it doesn't. It takes a bully. It takes an arrogant ass who thinks their time is the most important thing in the fucking world. Cars break down. Buses are late. Kids get sick. Spouses pick fights. Shit happens and students are late. To seize on such an instance as an opportunity to harass, humiliate, or otherwise pick on someone who is coming to *learn* from you is petty, vindictive, and altogether unbecoming for a so-called professional.

The lesson students learn from such instances isn't "get to class on time." It's "if you're going to be late, don't show up."

Beth said...

Hoosier,

I teach at an urban, commuter university. My students are working and middle class, and more than 80 percent have jobs; many have families. They still make it to class on time. I know from experience that if I don't have a policy, or fail to enforce it, I'll be dealing with interruptions for the first quarter hour of class, over and over.

I teach mostly composition. That's not a lecture-based course. Even when I do lecture, as I mentioned above, it's in a small room with no more than 30 students (35 in a lit course). It may not be disruptive for people to trickle into a large lecture hall, but it is disruptive for the door to constantly open and students to walk directly in front of me to sit down in a small room. The classroom is much improved by an understood policy. And because I convey it on the first day, and reiterate it through the next few class meetings, I don't have to be an asshole to enforce it. I leave about 5 minutes grace to take roll and chat informally, precisely for the reasons you list. I've also had students text to let me know of a traffic problem or other barrier to arriving on time, and I allow them in. It's not about being a jerk, just about setting expectations: for this time period, we will be focused on this course. Students appreciate that.

I don't know where people get the idea that it's tyrannical to have some guidelines for classroom management. We meet for a certain time, and have things to accomplish during that time.

Justin said...

I can't fault Kagan for the verbal beat down. Elie deserved every word by not reading at all for class that day. As for the Socratic method in general, one of my favorite professors at my law school uses the pure Socratic; no warning and no mercy if you aren't prepared. It keeps everyone on their toes and makes it easier to crack open that textbook after a long day.

Seven Machos said...

It takes an arrogant ass who thinks their time is the most important thing in the fucking world.

You mean the schmuck who walks into a class full of 30 or 60 or 100 people late and disrupts it, right?

John said...

I'm somewhat disappointed that nobody mentions that law students are the professors' customers. The behavior described here is snotty and unprofessional.

-jcr

Skyler said...

Seven, the military is an organization that operates at a very basic level to kill people. The tools used may be sophisticated, and the intelligence is often quite high (or you die), but the killing part remains quite visceral. There is a need to get everyone to a common denominator and to get accustomed to operating at an animal level.

I won't defend special forces for very similar reasons that I criticize the reliance on Harvard and Yale Law. I don't like them generally and I think they're often a bunch of divas with little to show for the awe they like to inspire in our population. (I will except the SEALS, they are truly tough bastards.) I was with 4th Recon and as a 40 year old man I was in better shape than any of the Marines entering the recon pipeline at the time. Too often they use their so-called elite aura to misbehave. I don't admire that.

I'm not your enemy, so cool your jets.

And one of the Supreme Court Justices is from Stanford, I don't believe his resignation is effective yet. So, yeah, MOST of the Supreme Court is from the same two elite schools. Stanford is number three, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't when he graduated from there. That number three slot has changed a lot over the decades but number one and two are pretty consistent.

Darcy said...

I really enjoyed this post when I read it this morning, mainly because - well, I have this vision of Althouse as a real ballbuster type of professor. It's kind of nice to know that that may not be true, if I read her comments right.

I don't mind high standards. That's a totally different thing, as Freeman and Beth pointed out.

Skyler said...

Oh, just double checked. Stevens went to Northwestern. For some reason I thought he was Stanford. Northwestern is even lower than Stanford. Who knows what it was way back then.

None these schools have any apology to make, they're all fantastic. So why should 8 of the 9 come from the two same elite schools?

That you nit pick this point is absurd.

Seven Machos said...

Skyler -- You are being an idiot. The military is no more of a special place than law school. Each has its own traditions, and you should respect the ones in law school.

As for Stanford, your idiocy is just out of bounds here. You said elite schools. Stanford is among them by any measure. Who exactly are you trusting to rank law schools, since you obviously know nothing about them? What are the criteria of the rankers? What is the value of that criteria? Is that criteria being reported honestly.

You have no idea what you are talking about, dude. Stop.

Seven Machos said...

Who are the rankers, Skyler? What do you know about them? Are you really making an argument that there is some difference in eliteness among Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Northwestern in terms of law school?

Which of those schools have you ever set foot in? Which of them do you know anything about? Anything at all?

You are a tool, Skyler. Your spouting here is one of the reasons why people can't stand military types. You are so very provincial.

Seven Machos said...

And one more thing, Skyler: you have the audacity to tell me not to nitpick when you are drawing distinctions among four of the very best of some 180 schools? ...And drawing these distinctions when you clearly, clearly don't know what the fuck you are talking about?

Man, dude. That's just asinine.

former law student said...

I'm somewhat disappointed that nobody mentions that law students are the professors' customers.

Because it's not true. Law school follows the medieval master-apprentice model, not the supplier-customer model

Freeman Hunt said...

I usually give quizzes first thing in class. If you miss the quiz, you can't make it up.

MadisonMan also knows how it's done.

Incidentally, I've never seen this sort of public humiliation take place in the workplace. I know that there exist such bosses, but I've never met one. I would never have treated a subordinate that way, and I would never have allowed a superior to treat me that way.

Enforce your rules, state your objection, but you only look weak when you go on a power trip.

Most respected teacher at my high school could make any student wither with a single glance. She would never have stooped to throwing fits.

Skyler said...

Seven, watch your language, your lack of class is showing.

There are TWO schools that are among the elite. One is Harvard, the other is Yale. That measurement is made by looking at where the Justices went to school.

I never said they were better. Only that they are the elite that seem to be a requirement to be on the highest court.

So go take your attitude somewhere else, shoplifter.

Skyler said...

The military is no more of a special place than law school

The military is a far less special place than law school. Just about anyone in reasonably good health can get in, it takes nothing special by design.

The Crack Emcee said...

Guess what? I was put in charge of a woman's training today. And I made her cry. Or, rather, she started crying, and making excuses, and then telling me her life story as a way to win my sympathy.

Didn't work. I told her to get a grip and stop thinking about herself.

Long story short, she stopped being defensive, started listening - and actually thinking about what I was saying to her - and, then, she started to improve her performance, immediately.

Then, with a totally different look and demeanor, she thanked me.

That's teaching, you dummies.

When I'm done with her, she'll probably be one of the best people we have.

And I never acted like an asshole, got off on her humiliation, or any of the other shit you people imagine goes into it - I just cared enough to knock that pathetic loser bullshit, she was floating on, out of her head. That's why they chose me.

That, and she's a NewAger. My guys never miss a trick.

NYU Law Libertarian said...

I just finished law school today. For three years I have wanted a professor to use this mythical abuse tactic on me when I wasn't prepared. My CivPro professor Burt Neuborne told us while we were first years that this happened to him when he was in law school. I could only wonder why such abuse would be taken by a student paying $100,000 to attend a university. I suppose there is a psychological component to it. But I swore if a professor ever refused to move on from me after I said "pass" I would make a scene. Law students need to realize that the professors who's salaries they pay have no right to deal with them in any manner that's disrespectful. And for those who would say that it is disrespectful to be unprepared ... why is there an attendance requirement for these law school courses? Once you find out that the professor is not going to add anything to your education that you couldn't get out of the case book ... your time should be your own. Law school only exists because the law requires it to practice ... otherwise why would anyone go?

reader_iam said...

I'm somewhat disappointed that nobody mentions that law students are the professors' customers.

You are the customer. You hire a plumber. The plumber shows up to do the job. Next ...