Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rage and the 1L student

Rage and ASP are something we talk about, but have not frequently addressed on the blog. I think everyone in ASP has seen it; a 1L becomes frustrated, but doesn't have a productive outlet for the frustration. The frustration simmers until it is rage, and the rage comes out in office hours and the classroom.

The sources of the rage are myriad. A student can become frustrated because they don't understand the material the way the think they should and blame the teacher. The student feels overwhelmed with the amount of work required in law school, decides to cut out the activities (exercise, hobbies) that make them happy, and winds up being less productive, but embittered because they no longer do what makes them happy. Or, as I have seen this past week, a student is unfamiliar with normed grading ("the curve") and discovers that they will not be receiving the grades they became accustomed to during their undergraduate careers.

Rage manifests in a variety of ways, all unpleasant for the student and the teacher. Eye rolling in class, side conversations that disrupt their peers, hijacked class discussions are all symptoms of rage. Office hour conversations that are full of blame without a concomitant sense of responsibility, body language that is hostile and aggressive, and foul, inappropriate language are also symptoms of rage.

If we know 1L rage is a problem, how to we defuse it? I don't have any easy answers. Rage is bigger than any one teacher, and often has roots outside the law school. We can recommend counseling and professional help, but a student with rage issues rarely responds to suggestions that they need assistance.

I think it is important we spend more time discussing rage amongst 1L students. One of the challenges we face is that rage can be  a contagion, spreading from student to student. This is especially true when the student with rage issues was likable and popular at the start of the school year; their attitude and issues infect those around them, and make dealing with the source of the problem even more challenging. (RCF)

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