Unusual pedagogical methods
Dave’s got the unusual research agenda wing covered. Thanks to his argument, I think we’re all prepared to tell our Deans, “my research agenda is the betterment of society.” (I certainly am!)
But why confine one’s creativity to the research side of things? Let’s not forget the other legs of that three-legged stool! And as if on cue, today’s Chronicle of Higher Education contains a piece by a History professor who dances ballet, in front of his students, to illustrate historical concepts:
Students now benefit from witnessing some of the following visual clarifications in my large survey courses: the glaring flaws of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies dissected with the help of a series of deftly executed entrechats (a startling jump in which the dancer’s legs scissor back and forth with lightning-speed precision); a re-creation of the tension surrounding the Bay of Pigs crisis by remaining en pointe (elevated on the tips of my toes) for as long as possible (20 seconds on a good day!); the sad fall from grace of President Richard Nixon given metaphorical expression through a dramatic, lingering penché (a slow, graceful tilting of the body toward the horizontal).
Can we apply this to law teaching? Of course we can! The possibilities are truly mind-boggling. I could illustrate problems with Sarbanes-Oxley through a series of entrechats, or perhaps show the intricacies of the Rule Against Perpetuities by executing pirouettes.
Best of all, though, is the article’s mention of how the professor leaps over some students during the dances. I can already see how this could be used in Business Associations. To my students: “Imagine that you are all business owners. Now, sit and watch as I, the dancing legislation, attempt to leap over you. This may be frightening, but it will be alright as long as I’m a good dancer. So, am I good legislation, or will I miss my aim and crush a few unsuspecting business owners? I guess we’ll find out, won’t we!”
So what are the great pedagogical tools we’re missing? What are the wackiest things you’ve seen done (or, I daresay, done yourself) in a classroom? (And, did they work?)