Monday, May 27, 2019

Normalizing Struggle by Catherine Martin Christopher

Education scholars stress that learning is effortful.  Also, making mistakes is an important part of learning.

Normalizing Struggle by Catherine Martin Christopher.

"Learning lawyering skills, and becoming competent or proficient in them, is a struggle. This article is a call to action for all legal educators: We need to acknowledge that students struggle, to expect it, and to convey to students that their struggle is normal. In fact, struggle is productive — learning is hard, and lawyers learn and struggle throughout their careers.

This article examines and criticizes the ways legal academia treats law students’ academic struggle as a problem, and suggests that legal educators reorient their attitudes toward struggle, forgiving and embracing student struggle, even building opportunities for struggle into the curriculum. By normalizing the fact of struggle, law schools will not only improve the wellness of their students, but will create lawyers who are better prepared to cope with the constant problem-solving required of a successful lawyer."

I especially like Professor Christopher's statement that "First, all law professors should become, and should consider themselves, academic support professionals. Professors are good at recognizing incompleteness and inaccuracy on final exams; professors should become equally adept at identifying struggling students before the exam and developing interventions."  Very wise words.  All law professors have a duty to educate their students.  If all law professors understood this, there would be fewer schools in danger of losing their accreditation over  bar pass problems.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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