Friday, January 10, 2014

Students' preparation for law school

                Have you been thinking that students are less prepared for law school than in the past? A recent item on the Washington Post blog helps to explain why. In it, a middle school teacher explains why she is leaving the profession. Here are some of her thoughts:

                "I realized that I am not permitted to really teach students anything. When I was in middle school, I studied Shakespeare, Chaucer, Poe, Twain, O. Henry, the founding fathers, if you will, of modern literary culture. Now, I was called to drag them through shallow activities that measured meaningless but 'measurable' objectives.

                "Forced to abandon my hopes of imparting the same wisdom I had gained through my experiences and education, I resigned myself to the superficial curriculum that encouraged mindless conformity. I decided that if I was going to teach this nonsense, I was at least going to teach it well. I set my expectations high, I kept my classroom structured, I tutored students, I provided extra practice, and I tried to make class fun. . . .

                [Her grades followed a bell-shaped curve, including some Ds and Fs for students who had simply not turned in work. She was called into the principal’s office where she was told,] "'They are not allowed to fail. If they have D’s or F’s, there is something that you are not doing for them.'"

                "What am I not doing for them? I suppose I was not giving them the answers, I was not physically picking up their hands to write for them.

                "I was called down to the principal’s office many more times before I was broken, before I ended up assigning stupid assignments for large amounts of credit, ones I knew I could get students to do. Even then, I still had students failing, purely through their own refusal to put any sort of effort into anything. . . . [But] everyone received at least a C that year—not earned, received—and I was commended for my efforts."

hat tip: Julie Clement


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