Monday, October 23, 2023
There are a number of sources of the phrase, "once around the park and home," according to the Urban Dictionary.1 I prefer to think it comes from an old Tony Bennett song: Please Driver (Once Around the Park Again).2 The song is sung from the point of view of a man who has been dumped and is longing for his usual company around the park. As Bennett says, "The trees tonight are snowy white. We drove around like this till dawn last New Years Eve."3 But let's be clear: driving around a park is a loop, you are not going to get anywhere new driving in circles, but you will take in the view.
Just now, I met with a student who came in to chat about their (ungraded) property midterm and wanted me to take a look before the peer review occurred in the next property class. Luckily there was a grading rubric and a copy of the question for me to follow along with-it has been a good long while since I took property. As I looked over what the professor was looking for and what the student had produced, I saw a large gap. The student had essentially spotted the issues and came to a correct (per the rubric) conclusion about each one but had not (with maybe two exceptions) mentioned any law or used the facts they were given to reach the conclusions. They explained that they were only hoping to get the "correct answer" to each question. I gently pointed out that instead of IRAC, they had used IC-and that was only because I gave them credit for stating an issue because they had resolved it. On the rubric, 2 points were to each I, R, and C per question, but there were 4-6 points assigned for the analysis-and rightfully so. Based on what I saw, they had scored badly.
They were adamant that they knew the material. I agreed that it was more an output rather than input issue (putting law in students' heads is a different thing altogether), but unlike undergraduate exams (and ironically more like 7th grade geometry), they needed to show their work. On the one hand, I could see (but not really assume) that the student understood the class because they reached the correct conclusion, however, since all of our 1L exams are graded anonymously, their property professor would just be surprised entering the poor exam grade and could not know whose exam it was until that moment. On the other hand, it would be a shame to get an unsatisfactory grade on the exam despite knowing the material. It was a question of showing the work, contextualizing the conclusions by analyzing fact and law together, and just taking a minute to slow down and admire the scenery of IRAC as a format.
I showed the student the picture below (I took it this morning on the way to a haircut) and asked if they had ever taken a drive to look at the foliage (it is a very New England thing to do) and they said they had. I asked them where did you end up when you did that? What was your final destination? They couldn't recall but agreed that the drive was worthwhile. I made my "teachable moment noise"-which I can only assume is extremely annoying but unavoidable (sorry-not sorry). I told them that this is mainly the idea of law school essay exams: you need to state the route (issue), take the best road (rule), and look for the reasons you have taken the trip (analysis). And where you end up is not nearly as important as the road you took and what you saw along the way (the good and the bad). Getting from point A to point B without taking a detour into the rule and analysis is efficient but will leave you at point C (as a grade).
In other words, the "correct answer" is the journey.
- Urban Dictionary: Home James
- 1954 HITS ARCHIVE: Please Driver (Once Around The Park Again) - Tony Bennett - YouTube,
- Id. I mean who does not love Tony Bennett?
Monday, August 15, 2022
Welcome back to the Law School Academic Support Blog! I hope you have had (or are still having) a wonderful summer. I feel like the waves of fall are starting to crash on my shore at this time of year, but it is, like the ocean, also familiar and soothing.
There is this great catchy tune, “Bang!,” that one of my kids introduced me to by a band called AJR. It sounds very ‘80’s which is probably why it appeals to me so much-but my absolute favorite part of it is that they had the guy who does the NYC Subway announcements do some voice work in it-and that, to me, sounds like home. No, he doesn’t say, “stand clear of the closing doors,” but his voice is utterly unmistakable when he says, “here we go.”
As we gear up for another fall (I can hear it approaching like a train into the station), we should remember that our voice as Academic Support professionals is unique in the law school setting. We may be the first voice students hear as they begin their journey, or a voice they hear when they are struggling later, or, hopefully, the voice on the stage cheering the loudest when they graduate. They will also hear us when they are studying for, taking, passing, or re-taking bar. Some students will never even know we were here-and that’s fine-but not due to any lack of trying to be seen and heard on our part. We are, in short, the center of the known universe for law students in it for the long haul with each new class that comes our way.
After a summer of blissful academic productivity-eh, who am I kidding? After a summer of having more downtime and slightly fewer students, I am printing out academic calendars, migrating materials on BlackBoard, and updating syllabi. I have found a great pending U.S. Supreme Court case that will be argued in October for my undergraduates to concentrate on for our final assessment (it has pictures, and Prince!!). I guess I am ready… -ish.
I know I feel both the dread and the excitement of a new academic year coming at me. I’ll miss the flexible schedule-and my ratty everyday sandals-tremendously, but I am also excited to meet new students and get into the rhythm of the school year. So, let’s be sure to end our summers with a bang and get ready for what’s coming.
To quote Bang!,
“So put your best face on, everybody
Pretend you know this song
Everybody come hang
Let's go out with a bang
Bang! Bang! Bang!
(Here we go)”
And, as always, stand clear of the closing doors.
 He also says the word “metronome,” but that is inconvenient for this blog post.
 Which we seem to be abandoning shortly, most likely because I have finally mastered it.
 Andy Warhol Found. for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith, 11 F.4th 26 (2nd Cir. 2021). So much for my joke that the F.3d was a pop-up version-I suppose we have moved on to smell?
Monday, November 18, 2019
You must not know ‘bout me. – Beyonce
Popular or “pop” culture is the aggregate of people’s beliefs and attitudes. More narrowly, pop culture” refers to the media of popular culture—movies and television shows as well as music, computer games, stage plays, novels, and the like. Pop culture influences all walks of daily life from social interactions and religious expression, to legal trends and classroom teaching. In a discussion of legal ethics in popular culture, one author suggests that the effectiveness of pop cultural works depends strongly on the imaginative identification of the audience with their heroes.1
When law students engage with pop culture products, the result is quite different from what occurs in other undergraduate or graduate courses.2 Since the early years of my teaching career, I have used pop culture references in my classroom to enhance my teaching and to make learning relatable to my students. To keep my references current and effective, I’ve had to add social media, hashtags, Insta®, Finsta, Netflix, shipping, shaming, and an uncountable number of terms to use and avoid, to my lexicon. In an attempt to connect with my students, I never hesitate to ask for explanation, demonstration, or example, when they use or present new terms or make what appears to be generally accepted reference to a pop figure. Each year in the classroom, I’ve learned – without judgment – something new that has served the greater purpose of understanding the mindset and frame of reference of the students whom we prepare to enter the legal profession.
Open mind notwithstanding, even I was not prepared for what happened in class last week. Brace yourselves. This news will not be easy to digest. A student did not know who Beyonce was. I found myself responding with an audible gasp when the student, commenting on a PowerPoint slide with an inserted photo of Queen Bey, said is that a picture of someone we are supposed to know?
I had long since replaced my references to 8-track tapes, the Sony Walkman®, Peyton Place, public pay phones, and phone numbers like Davis 8-4476 in my lectures. But this? How could anyone walking the earth today not know who Beyonce is? I feared that the utter lack of recognition could stir the Beyhive, and possibly devalue my communicative currency.
As I came to my senses from the sheer shock of it all, I remembered these wise words: the most important focus is on how students are experiencing learning and perceiving the teacher’s actions. As a corrective measure, I’ll get myself in formation and add this experience as another installment to my post about knowing your audience, as a reminder that an example, a visual aid, a personal or pop culture reference is only as effective as the perception of the audience.
1William H. Simon, Moral Pluck: Legal Ethics in Popular Culture, 101 Col. L. Rev. 421, 440 (2001).
2Michael Asimow, The Mirror and the Lamp: The Law and Popular Culture Seminar, 68 Journal of Legal Education 115-116 (2018).
Friday, March 6, 2015
Searchin' in the sun for another overload
I hear you singin' in the wire, I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line
And if it snows that stretch down south won't ever stand the strain
And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line" -- Wichita Lineman, written by Jimmy Webb
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
After Amy's post, I received a link to a wonderful website created by my colleague at UConn, Prof. Mark deAngelis. He and his daughter have been re-writing and recording classics songs, replacing the original lyrics with lyrics about the law. I think you will find it creative and entertaining, as well as educational.
Have fun! (RCF)