Monday, December 24, 2012
Among non-ASP faculty, there is sometimes a misperception that ASP is a magic band-aid. The magic band-aid theory of ASP holds that a good ASP that can easily and painlessly fix what ails a student, a program, or a school, in only a few short meetings. But ASP is not a magic band-aid. Here is why:
It is hard to learn new ways to think. This is difficult for many law professors to understand, because law came easy to them. But for students who have great potential, but did not grow up with logic puzzles or parents who were lawyers or teachers, law requires new, unfamiliar ways of thinking. Emotion and desire are less important than logic and process. For students who go to law school because of a burning passion to fix an injustice, the first semester of law school is not only bewildering, but it can be disheartening to learn that burning passion is not logical. Using process to find justice can be disheartening as well, because process does not always end in the result they feel is fair. Learning new ways to think can be emotionally and mentally taxing. Teaching students how to use logic and argument is taxing for the professionals who need to keep students motivated, while helping them see that logic is the key to exam success.
It is hard to change the way you study. Students who start law school with inadequate or dysfunctional study skills need to accept that 1) those study skills that got them to law school will not help them in law school 2) that they have to let go of something that is comfortable, and find a new way of doing things that is unfamiliar. This does not happen overnight; learning new study skills is a long-term process. It is challenging for ASP professionals, because there is not one, master way to study. Study skills need to fit the work (law) as well as the student. It takes time to get to know the student, for them to open up and trust you enough to admit how they study for classes and exams. And it takes even more time for students to learn new study skills, to practice with them, and to find which techniques are the best fit.
It is hard to change the way you teach. Non-ASP law professors can sometimes hold onto the belief that if their ASP was just "better," than their students would not struggle (on exams, on the bar, finding jobs, etc). But ASP alone cannot create "better" students. Across the curriculum, teaching needs to evolve in tandem with efforts by ASP. Teachers need to meet students where they are, not where they think they ought to be. That may mean using techniques and methods in the classroom that are new. ASP can help students with study skills, writing, and thinking, but it cannot create "better" students without assistance and support from across the curriculum. (RCF)