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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Blessing of a B- in Law School?

Wendy Mogel, clinical psychologist and author of the best-selling parenting book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, has a forthcoming book about what parents can learn from teenagers, The Blessing of a B-. The message of the two books, one on the parenting of young children and one on the parenting of young adults, is to allow kids room for failure, resist judgment, and let individuals find their own path in life. Mogel draws on Jewish law to challenge American middle and upper-class upbringing, which relies to much on what kids learn at school and expects too little from kids at home. If a kid reports that they have  an exam at school, parents  both place extreme pressure on the child to succeed in that exam through tutors and study time and, at the same time, pamper and indulge their every request while at home, depriving them from the learning process of multi-tasking, problem solving and the independent facing of adversity.

By the time these kids reach law school, they are spoiled and unwilling to accept the fact that school can be gratifying even when you are not receiving a steady stream of A-s. My colleague Grant Morris has written an article about this next stage, Preparing Law Students for Disappointing Exam Results: Lessons from Casey at the Bat. Here is the abstract:

It is a statistical fact of life that two-thirds of the law students who enter law school will not graduate in the upper one-third of their law school class. Typically, those students are disappointed in their examination grade results and in their class standing. Nowhere does this disappointment manifest itself more than in their attitude toward their classes. In the fall semester of their first year, students are eager, excited, and willing to participate in class discussion. But after they receive their first semester grade results, many students withdraw from the learning process - they are depressed and disengaged. They suffer a significant loss of self-esteem. This article considers whether law professors should prepare their students for the disappointing results - the poor grades - that many are certain to receive. I assert that professors do indeed have a role to play - in fact, a duty to their students - to confront this problem. I offer a strategy by which professors can acknowledge students' pre-examination anxiety and deal constructively with their impending disappointment. There are lessons to be learned from Casey at the Bat, Ernest Lawrence Thayer's immortal poem about failure.

Posted by Orly Lobel on November 7, 2007 at 11:20 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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I concur here:


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Nov 7, 2007 2:46:07 PM

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