Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Man's Best Friend as a Study Buddy

If anyone had suggested to me several years ago that I would tout dogs as study buddies, I would have laughed.  However, I have found that my students can use their furry friends to help them study in several ways.  Bear with me as these suggestions do have evidence of working for at least some of my dog owners and their pets.

Dogs are incredibly loyal and expressive companions.  These traits ideally suit them to be study buddies. 

Law students have to read and brief cases every day of their lives.  However, they will often learn and retain more if they recite out loud after these tasks.  Explaining a case helps the student prepare for in-class recitation and checks her understanding of the case - if you can correctly explain it then you really know it.

Of course, one could explain the case to an empty chair or a blank wall.  But behold ones furry friend.  By explaining the case to ones dog, a responsive audience is available.  A dog will smile at your voice, cock its head in attentiveness, and perhaps even bark or wag its tail to signify how brilliant you are.  In addition, your discourse with your dog will lull it into thinking that you are paying attention to it even when you really are not.  No more guilt about ignoring your pooch while you study.  Ah, a true symbiotic relationship!

Another example is that dogs often come over to check on their owners during long study periods.  Assuming that your animal is not actually asking to go outside, you can use this interaction to advantage as well.  Let your dog's visit amount to an accountability check. 

Pretend your pet is checking to see if you are focused on the task at hand, finished the case you were supposed to have read, or completed some other task that you should have finished.  If you are not on-task, then you need to admit it to your dog and get back to work.  After all, you do not want to embarrass yourself again about being a slacker on the next accountability visit.

Finally, dogs and humans need exercise as well as companionship.  Many law students learn by listening to the various audio series on law topics.  By listening to Contracts, Corporations, or some other course on your iPod while you jog or walk with your dog, you have accomplished two important tasks at once.  Voila, more symbiosis.

Oh, and for those of you who own furry felines instead, I can tell you from personal experience that the first reciting step does work with cats.  However, they are not inclined to look interested or give you any feedback regarding your brilliance.  The accountability step may work as long as they do not lie down on the book or paper that you are reading.  But most certainly, they will not tolerate companionable exercise.  (Amy Jarmon)

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