Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Kaimipono Wegner has an interesting post over at Concurring Opinions entitled "Teaching Disturbing Law" concerning how to properly teach difficult sexual harassment cases in the law school setting.
He relates how the issue came to his attention this way:
A friend of mine who is a relatively new professor is teaching some material that includes cases relating to sexual harrassment law. She is mulling over how best to present the material, and she asked me:
I was just reading again over some of the cases assigned to the students. One of the cases in particular reports graphic and disturbing acts (gang rapes, etc.) and language (repeated use of the word "fuck") as part of the factual summary and the discussion of the issues. It occurred to me that I might warn the students about the potentially offensive language and graphic description of sexual acts. What do you think? Should I say anything?
Kaimi's considers the pros and cons of different approaches and concludes:
On the one hand, perhaps the sensitive students would appreciate a warning. On the other hand, for many students, highlighting the issue could have the opposite effect, drawing more attention to lurid details than they deserve. I told her that in my opinion, I would lean towards a short warning myself (given the potential concerns of the more sensitive students), but that I thought she would also be fine if she didn't warn, as long as she treated the material carefully.
I figure as a number of us teach sexual harassment law on a yearly basis, we would be in a unique position to lend advice to Kaimi and his friend on how to deal with this issue of pedagogy. He, as well as I, would like to get some input from experienced professors (as well as students) on how they would approach these difficult sexual harassment cases.