Wednesday, April 23, 2008

two views of the same river

The last class of the seminar on foundations of L&S today. It wasn't a terrible class, at all, but the class was strained to the hilt by the laboriousness of the readings, the occasionally stilted nature of the discussion, and the weird dynamics that pitted political scientist against economist against sociologist. It was hardly anyone's favorite class ever.

Still, as we partook (is that a word?) of my favorite ritual, the end-of-class-clap, the prof thanked us for our spirited engagement and said that we were her best class on the subject.

Huh?! Are we talking about the same class?!

It is nice to know this, of course. I just am never sure whether to believe professors when they say these things. Either we were better than we perceived (and we perceived ourselves to be lacking in interest and patience), or man, the other classes before us must have sucked hard.

Perhaps one day, I too will say this to my classes, that they were the best class ever. Perhaps, one day, I too will engage in institutionally lubricating little white lies that make everyone special in that post-Objectivist way. That happened a lot in law school. Profs would say "I know you might hear that I tell my 1L class this every year, but you are truly the best, friendliest, warmest bunch I've ever had." Framed like that, it's hard not to go "whatev."

Still, it is nice to hear these things, especially if sincerely meant. And I really think she meant it. Maybe we weren't as bad as we thought we were. I mean, we, as a class, did read carefully, participate fully, have discussions (aka arguments) and turn in all the critiques and go to every class. So I guess, in terms of participation and engagement, we were there. We were awkward, yes, but we were all awkward together and to equal degrees. It is ironic that the last two classes have been so good, and the discussoin so lively and interesting. It almost made me sad to see the class end. Almost.

I will, however, be sad when my class on gender discrimination ends. Now that was an awesome class. It reminds me of my other favorite class ever, employment discrimination law--my 3L spring semester, the course that changed my life and scholarship. I am telling you, law professor folks: you can make a difference in your students' lives.