Monday, October 03, 2005

Out of the Closet - I'm a Bass Ackwards Teacher

Jim already knows this -- we taught together at SLU. The way I teach my Advanced Legal Research class is to give the students worksheets ahead of the topic, designed to encourage them to explore and familiarize themselves with the various research tools of the week The entire class most weeks is not a lecture or demonstration, but a discussion of what the students liked or didn't like, found or didn't find working through the worksheet. I warn the class on the first day that I know the worksheets are very time-consuming (despite paring them down drastically over the years!), and that the three papers I assign during the semester are even more time-consuming.

I have put little bombshells into various worksheets, not to be mean, but, I hope, to give the students an AHA moment when they will realize that there is more than one way to use a tool or do a type of research. I figure by the time these students are graduated, many of the tools I might "teach" them will be gone or changed. What I hope they learn is how to teach themselves and how to evaluate a tool for themselves, including comparing costs. I keep fiddling with the course, adding a bit or changing a bit. When there was all the terrible fight about bibliographic instruction I certainly did not have the courage to put my little hand up and say anything about a different way of teaching. Maybe it's not all that different at all. It's just bass-ackwards.

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