Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, May 28, 2007

Teaching RAP -- Is there a better way?

MarkeyMaureen E. Markey (Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law) has recently published her article entitled Ariadne's Thread: Leading Students into and out of the Labyrinth of the Rule Against Perpetuities, 54 Clev. St. L. Rev. 337 (2006).

Here is the conclusion of her article:

The Rule Against Perpetuities may be inconsistent, illogical, needlessly complicated, and often brainlessly applied--but it serves a purpose. Abolishing the Rule or avoiding it is not the solution. There is good policy here. To the extent there is a solution to teaching the Rule, it is to streamline and simplify the presentation of the Rule so as to avoid ridiculous applications. My guidelines for following my own advice are as follows: Keep in-class explanations and examples simple, especially in Property. Emphasize relevance, context, and connections. Liberally use analogies to familiar concepts and situations. Minimize outrageous examples, except as illustrative of absurdity. Use the whiteboard, slides, power point, diagrams, graphics, and any other visual aids you can think of to help your students. Develop a step-by-step process that fits your style and your students. Give your students plenty of problems (required, optional, or both), so they can practice. Provide some method of feedback so they can gauge their level of understanding. Finally, keep a sense of humor and hope your students do the same.

I have searched valiantly for a shortcut through the labyrinth of the Rule Against Perpetuities. Alas, my quest for that particular holy grail has been in vain. But what I have discovered is a wealth of valuable suggestions from many teachers, whose combined years of teaching experience numbers in the many hundreds. In this Article, I have tried to set forth some of those ideas so that anyone teaching this Rule can pick and choose from them. Each of us must weave our own Ariadne's thread that will help our students through this impossible maze without being gobbled up by this Minotaur of the Property curriculum.


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