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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Changing casebooks

I have been using the same Criminal Law casebook for the past 7 years.  I think it is an excellent book.  At the same time, I've been thinking about switching to a new one next year, not because I have any complaints, and not because I have any particular alternative in mind, but simply for the sake of change.  Here's what I'm wondering, though:  Is it likely that changing casebooks will do more than merely provide different case-vehicles for teaching the same thing?  Have others who have switched books found that the switch also challenged, in productive (and not merely time-intensive) ways, comfortable patterns of thinking about problems and doctrines?  I'd welcome any advice!

Posted by Rick Garnett on January 23, 2007 at 12:02 PM in Teaching Law | Permalink


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Changing textbooks constantly is only beneficial to the professor. Consistency is good. Think of the costs being incurred on students everytime a professor feels like his understanding of the subject is lacking. Suggestion: Re-read the textbook you are currently using... that will help.
Changing textbooks for the sake of change is not a legitimate reason. Law books cost enough as it is- new or used. So- unless the new editions or different books have some new, important, relevant law material (not just an updated appendix)- then don't change. Stick with what you know. Students (and their limited budgets) will appreciate it.

Posted by: Anna | May 5, 2007 3:41:09 PM

Changing books three times (four if you count a very new edition of one of them) has very much enriched my teaching -- and even my understanding of the subject.

Posted by: Michael Froomkin | Jan 23, 2007 8:58:49 PM

For reasons I can't quite explain, I've ended up switching Constitutional Law books 4 times in 13 years. And I find it a very good thing to do, for precisely the reason you state: it makes me look at the stuff again, and think anew about how to make things clear to my students.

Posted by: Eric Muller | Jan 23, 2007 2:59:30 PM

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