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November 15, 2006

A comical look at curricular reform

As noted here at the WSJ Law Blog, Jeremy Blachman, a 2005 Harvard Law grad and progenitor of Anonymous Lawyer, has this comical take on Harvard's new first-year curriculum.  Jeremy proposes a bunch of new classes he would like to see at his alma mater, and here is his set-up:

I'm not sure I like the changes [to the HLS curriculum]. In a world where law school needs to compete for young people's attention with extreme sports, reality television, and Mark Foley's instant messages, Harvard needs classes that are both relevant and sexy. The rest of the faculty should take Alan Dershowitz's lead.  He's offering a class this year called "Thinking About Taboo Subjects." The description includes words like "rape and child molestation," "torture," "eugenics," "abortion," "holocaust denial," and "scholarship."  Even more promising, the class has the word "thinking" in the title. Not "reading," or "writing," or "completing a 40-hour intensive clinical project." Just "thinking." It sounds like a class even I would have been able to get excited about.

But classes like Prof. Dershowitz's are only the start. If I were in charge (and I shouldn't be) I'd leave the entire existing curriculum behind -- contracts, property, and that confusing class about exploding packages and broken swimming-pool slides -- and implement a completely new set of classes to reflect what young attorneys will need to thrive in their fledgling legal careers.  A new law school curriculum for the next hundred years, since one curriculum change every century seems to be about all they're able to handle.

Though I like Jeremy's comical list of new classes (which include "Being a Supreme Court Justice" and "It's Not Like It Seems on TV"), I cannot help but give some serious thought to what the 1L year would look like if schools really had to create a curriculum with a "completely new set of classes."

Posted by DAB.

November 15, 2006 in Teaching -- new courses | Permalink


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