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November 7, 2008

A Senior Lecturer Becomes President

Among the many other things he represents, Barack Obama's victory in the presidential race makes him the second among the last three presidents whose occupation outside of politics was teaching in law school. 

As laid out in the New York TImes, President-elect Obama was an outstanding teacher for twelve years at the University of Chicago's law school.  He was good enough, in fact, to have been offered tenure without having published (an offer he declined).  He was also an anamoly on the faculty; a liberal amongst a largely conservative faculty.

But, importantly, he was a lecturer.  I would like to think that his election sends an important message about non-tenure track faculty; about what they have to offer and the relevance of their thoughts.  They often are more political than us tenured profs, or more "practical," and that is sometimes thought of as a bad thing.  This lecturer, though, is now about to author the most relevant scholarship any of us will ever see, in the form of his presidency.  Perhaps, behind everything else that his Barack Obama means to different people, his election will open our eyes in this way, too.

-- Mark Osler

November 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 3, 2008

The panicky finals-taker

It's a scene we teachers are all familiar with:  You are in your office, while your students are downstairs taking the final.  A student arrives at your door, panic-stricken.  There is a term used in the exam with which he or she is not familiar, or worries is ambiguous.

Do you give advice?  I rarely do, but it is hard to resist.  I wish I could say that I have been absolutely consistent, but that's not true.  I would imagine it would be an easier issue if the term used on the test really was improperly used, and several students had the same concern.  I struggle to write good finals, but I haven't had that kind of justifiable anxiety yet.  Still, I am pulled in separate directions-- on the one hand by helping a student who seems emotional, and on the other by the need to be fair. 

How much injustice is wrought by just answering the question?

-- Mark Osler

November 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack