It was liket a light bulb went off over my head. You know the one – blinding flash of the obvious – where, in retrospect you have no idea why you missed the main point of whatever. It was an innocent remark of George’s that triggered my understanding.
Let me give you some background so that you can understand the context.
I using my GI Benefits to collect yet another degree. I thought about some of the PhD programs – but, thinking in German, Dr. Dr. is just stupid. I have an MPH. I decided, in 1999, that I did not want a MS in military science. This left me with looking at the various programs offered in the area. I wanted a program that I would attend. Between 2011-2015 I did enough on-line courses through Coursera and EdEx that, while accumulating a lot of knowledge good for trivia and general enjoyment, I found that I missed the face-to-face interactions with faculty. UCHastings (Law School of which George is an Alumni) offered a Masters in Studies in Law (MSL). The program is designed for those already with advanced degrees in the fields of medicine, technology, business, with a grounding in law. The variety of courses offered is excellent, mostly relevant, and provides a completely different way of looking at one’s field from the legal/regulatory point of view. The two main downsides are cost and day-time only courses which means the program is not really accessible (yes, you can study part time and complete the degree over 4 years) for most working professionals.
Now you have the background. Let us move on to socratic methods of teaching.
No, lets us not. I would rather skip that whole mess. I am a doc, I like lectures; I like reading things that make sense, are exact and are consistent. Short is better and facts which are well known do not need references.
Moving on to law school exams. No, I am not in law school, but my classes are at a law school and my classes are filled with law students. Other than having the shortest and most concise essays of anyone on the first few exams (you could write more….) I ran into little problems understanding what the faculty member wanted out of me for the exam.
Then I hit a practice exam in Constitutional Law II and totally missed the point. I answered the question with real world knowledge. I know what the professor intended, but he used a real world situation, so I answered in kind. Wrong. He wasn’t looking for what was TRUE, he was looking for a logical essay on a couple of constitutional points and some definitions he thought might be of consideration.
The difference between this exam and the others? All of the others had used fake states, towns, cities or situations. I could take them as purely related to the legal principles. In contrast, ask me about deployment of National Guard and my mind goes from theory to reality. Repeat, I am a doc. Talk to me about “any patient” and I will give you an any patient answer. Ask me about a specific patient, and guess what you will get.
George just looked at me. Law school questions are a closed universe. Use only the information contained. It is an isolated universe. Reality “hat nicht zu tun.”