28 December 2008

December 28, 2008

Even before arriving at NLU, Dr. Shasthri let me know that the National Law University would be conducting a three-day teacher training program, sort of a law professor enhancement program on steroids. Perhaps, he speculated, I would have a part on one of the days. By the time the program began on December 27, I had become one of the presenters on four of the seven sessions. For three of the sessions I thankfully share my presentation responsibilities with Professor A. Jaya Govind, Vice-Chancellor of the National Law of India University in Bangalore, and Professor Upendra Baxi of the School of Law at the University of Warwick, England. The first topic was research and scholarship. I was right at home. The faculty at NLU has the same conflicts as the law faculty at Regent between the demands of class prep, student advising, grading, and administrative responsibilities with the time needed for academic writing. However, it’s even tougher for the folks at NLU. The study of law in India (and, indeed, much of the rest of the world) is an undergraduate program. (At NLU, it’s five years.)This differences in knowledge and maturity of the incoming students present significant challenges. The foremost additional burden for the faculty is the need to conduct “continuous” assessments, i.e., quizzes, tests, and papers. Like most American law faculty, the teaching load of the NLU faculty is two courses per semester. But the addition of multiple graded exercises, together with dealing with maturity level of 17 to 22 year olds makes me happy that my regular job is in the U.S.

The second day of the conference had me speaking on the case law approach to teaching and how it differs from case studies and the case study approach. I never suspected the case law approach was different from the case approach but learned that the case approach is what the Brits and their legal heirs in India use. As I came to understand, profs here assign students a list of cases that they are expected to read. Then, in class, the prof lectures on a case and solicits questions. Not very Socratic. My Kingsfield-light approach seemed a hit. Tomorrow I get to talk about the problem-based approach I use in my Sales and Secured Transactions courses. All in all, a very substantive faculty program.

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