If you’ve read Professor Nick Smith’s guide for undergraduates considering law school, then his Inside Guide to Academic Success article (see below) is required, secondary, reading!
a rule, I try to speak less than fifty-percent of the words in any class, preferring to have as many of the ideas articulated by the students as is practical. Students should actively make the discoveries rather than watching me talk about the material base because you will learn it best when you openly discuss it. We will often engage in “debates” in class, but we are not competing with each other but rather are collaborating in the exploration of arguments and counter-arguments. I argue for both sides of every problem, and you should feel comfortable taking a chance trying on a minority position and know that I will help you to articulate your point. This isn’t to say that I will coddle you or that I think everyone is equally right, but I have a pretty good sense of what’s motivating even the strangest comments and I can usually dig out the underlying philosophical issues. And I always argue with the minority, so you will have at least one ally.
criticisms. A good response paper on Kant, for example, might explain the differences between the categorical and hypothetical imperatives and provide some critical evaluation of the ideas. I give you freedom to write on whatever you like, but don’t abuse this and use it as an excuse to b.s. your way through the paper when you haven’t done the reading.