Friday, February 22, 2013
Brian Leiter here takes Paul Campos to task for admitting that he doesn't "know] what it means" to think like a lawyer. I read Campos as admitting something slightly different -- that he doesn't know what it means to "teach students" how to think like lawyers. The difference is significant. In my view, Campos is saying a few things that, however embarrassing, are true for most of us in law teaching: as a group, we don't really know why we do what we do in the classroom or how effective our methods are. ...
I would add these observations:
* Once in a faculty position, most law professors receive no training in teaching and are slow to seek out development resources from teaching centers on their campuses. (Count me among the slow, at least until I started running one of those centers.)
* Mentoring efforts for junior faculty are much likelier to focus on scholarship than teaching.
* Most law faculty members (of all levels of seniority) generally receive no more peer feedback on their teaching than they absolutely must.
* The more prestigious the institution, the more teaching is seen as a hindrance to research, the less time people spend in the classroom, the more a reduced teaching load is dangled as a hiring or retention incentive, and the harder faculty members work to find ways of getting release time from teaching. (As with all rules, there are exceptions, but who could deny that this is the rule?)