Monday, November 15, 2004
I previously have compared tax teacher (and blogger) extraordinaire Jim Maule (Villanova) to the Incredible Hulk (see here). Prof. Maule and his tax class were featured in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer (Wanted: Sorcerer for U.S. Tax Laws), which suggested another comparison: Professor Snape from Harry Potter fame:
I thought perhaps I'd find professor James Maule's class at the bottom of a dungeonlike staircase, like the one Harry Potter and his pals took to study Potions with the spooky Professor Snape. But no. Maule holds court in an airy lecture hall at Villanova's Law School. Before him last week sat 100 or so clean-cut lawyers-in-training, intently taking notes on their laptops. Yet the subject was as arcane as anything in the Hogwarts curriculum. Maule teaches tax law. He's supposed to make students understand the logic of the U.S. Internal Revenue code....
[A] good preparation for this would be fantasy-adventure games, such as Myst or Dungeons & Dragons. Players have to navigate an invented universe, deciphering an elaborate network of rules as they go. Maule didn't disagree with me. "There is a structure" to the tax laws, he said, adding that the students who do well in his course are the ones who can grasp and adopt that structure in their thinking. But that structure could change, if President Bush follows through on his postelection pledge to overhaul the country's tax system.