Monday, September 03, 2012
The Shadow ClassWell, tomorrow is the first day back to school at BU Law, and it's all very exciting. I'm teaching Administrative Law for maybe the 8th or 9th time in my career. Currently, there are about 46 students registered for the class, but because our add-drop period is so incredibly long (I think the deadline to decide what classes to take falls somewhere around Thanksgiving), it takes a long time for me to know excactly how many people are going to be in the class and who they are. Being neurotic and generally bananas, I check the class list online like three times a day to see if anyone has added the class (yay) or dropped the class (boo). It's an emotional roller-coaster. "I'm up to 47!" "Oh, no, 44!" Especially if there's a student that I know and like and that person is in the class and then suddenly they're gone, this can send me into an emotional tailspin that can last until lunchtime. Once in a while someone you know adds the class (awesome!) only to drop the class the next day (can you say "extended tailspin"?). For some reason, at BU, we also have the ability to see the list of students who have dropped the class since registration first opened sometime in June. For a big class like admin law, the list of students who have dropped can be longer than the list of students actually taking the class (lots of people register for the class but hope to be able to drop it when they get into a seminar or clinic or whatever; also sometimes they learn more about who they've chosen for a prof and, let's just say, flee). I always think of this group of students as the "shadow class"--the group of students walking around the law school united by nothing more, perhaps, then the fact that they were once a registered student in my class but no longer are. It's like I have two classes at the same time--one learning administrative law and the other pointedly not learning administrative law. Sometimes I see a member of the shadow class around the school and ask him or her how's it going not learning administrative law. Usually they say it's going pretty well.
Posted by Jay Wexler on September 3, 2012 at 09:44 AM | Permalink
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Do the droppers ever tell you, "It's not you, it's me." I've had one say something pretty close to that.
Posted by: Matt | Sep 3, 2012 12:08:34 PM
Your shadow class is what Kurt Vonnegut called a "granfalloon."
Posted by: Steven Lubet | Sep 3, 2012 5:13:45 PM
My goodness, this is about the most pathetic post I've ever read. Why on earth would a grown person invest emotional energy caring whether students choose his or another person's course? And then spend the time to write about it for all the world to read? Egads.
He's like a middle school kid gathering Valentines.
Posted by: Anon | Sep 4, 2012 5:16:30 PM
Anon above, you clearly lack a sense of humor. Good luck with that.
Posted by: anon | Sep 4, 2012 11:06:53 PM
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