Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Giant Pumpkin Growing Lesson #4: Remember Your Goal

For my fourth and penultimate pumpkin post, I recommend that novices regularly remind themselves of their original goal.

In Lesson #2 I explained how I came to establish my personal goal for the growing season, namely to get a single healthy pumpkin to the weigh-off scale.  Now that the weigh-off is less than two weeks away, I'm starting to secretly hope I win the Rookie of the Year award.  Consciously I know that I have not done as much work as some other new growers, but that fact hasn't stopped me from wanting to win the award.  My original goal was to grow a pumpkin, and I've done just that.  Yet, I have the distinct feeling that I'm going to be (irrationally) disappointed with my ranking on the leaderboard at the weigh-off event.

All this ranking-focused-thinking got me wondering about my students and their first-year grades.  At the beginning of the semester, I asked my criminal law class (which, by design, also includes my AEP students) to tell me what they most wanted out of the fall semester.  The top two responses: "to survive" and "to pass."  Only a handful of students offered more specific aspirations, like learning about murder, gaining confidence, performing pro bono work, or learning "how to write."  It seems that most of my rookie students and I had the same mindset at the outset of our respective endeavors: to survive the new experience.  So, does that mean that most of my students will start dreaming of sitting at the top of the leaderboard in December, even though that wasn't their original goal, and even though they may not have put forth the amount of effort needed to achieve a high ranking?

Admittedly, I don't have an answer; rather I'm making an observation about novices.  Nonetheless, I do plan to discuss the theory with my students. I suspect that a candid discussion about my own illogical (and last minute) desire to be "the best" may help reframe my students' thoughts and expectations with regard to their own fall grades.  In a school with a mandatory grade curve, there can only be handful of "A"s in each class.  But, a law school "B" can be equally worthy of celebration--especially if the original goal was just "to survive." (Kirsha Trychta)

  IMG_1804 2

Here is "Presley" in mid-September, weighing an estimated 400 pounds.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2017/10/giant-pumpkin-growing-lesson-4-remember-your-goal.html

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