Lazy Professors

I'm taking three classes currently, and, as such, have three course syllabi. Of these, one has assignments attached to specific dates. This is quite useful, as it's annoying to have to scan through the actual contents of each assignment to figure out where we are in the class and what the next lecture's reading assignment will be. Since these are all electronic syllabi in PDF format, I can't just mark off assignments as they're completed.

The other two do not have dates attached to them, merely "Lecture #" or "Assignment #." Charitably, this could be an attempt by the professors to acknowledge that they're likely to fall behind their lesson plan. They thus omit dates to avoid embarrassment and to prevent confusion. This would be plausible were it not for the remarkable fidelity that all of my professors have shown toward their schedule. The most any class has been behind all semester is perhaps a half a lecture. That is, they will always at least partially cover the day's topic, and will usually speed up the next day in order to catch up. Nothing is skipped, and we're seldom behind. This contrasts favorably with my undergraduate experience, when we were lucky to cover two-thirds of the material on the syllabus.

The less charitable, and more likely, explanation is that my professors are lazy. They're recycling their syllabi from previous semesters, and if they don't include dates for reading assignments they don't have to update them each semester. That's pretty sad. This suspicion was confirmed when I noted that the file information for my Civil Procedure syllabus indicated that it was the property of Fordham Law (My Civ. Pro. professor is visiting from Fordham). So my Civil Procedure professor couldn't even be bothered to change the organization heading when he moved from Fordham to Columbia.

On the plus side, at least they're teaching. One thing I'll say for law school; the professors put in a lot more effort than they did in undergrad (note again their tendancy to stay on schedule) and the students are a lot more engaged. Now, part of this engagement arises out of the constant mortal fear of being called upon and verbally flayed alive in front of the class over the details of some obscure case from the Iowa Appellate Court, but not all of it. After all, if getting called on in class were the only motivation to study and pay attention, a good portion would just not show up at all. With the exception of a few frequent absentees, I would estimate that 90-95% of the seats in my classes are filled every day. That's pretty darn good attendance compared to undergrad.

So: Law professors are lazy, but not as lazy and uninvolved as undergraduate professors tend to be.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on November 18, 2005 4:06 AM.

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