strategies and techniques for teaching contracts

strategies and techniques for teaching contracts


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strategies and techniques for teaching contracts

Contract law can be a delight to teach and learn. Because most law schools include Contracts in the required first-year curriculum, professors can expect to encounter the unbounded enthusiasm of law students just beginning their studies. Contracts permeate daily life, and students rejoice whenever they see their studies play out in the real world. There is good reason that professors at many schools vie to teach Contracts, yet the course can prove unwieldy for the unwary. There are students who approach it with apprehension. Some, unacquainted with the scope of the course, expect it to be highly technical, consisting largely of the review of dry documents. Others fear they do not have the business background to understand the subject. Contracts is neither dull nor inaccessible, but it is best for the professor to enter the course prepared. This book is designed to help you do just that.

There are many ways to approach a course in Contracts. Every professor brings his or her own perspectives and talents to the enterprise. The course has a greater chance of being successful, however, if the professor makes deliberate and informed choices about objectives, and communicates those objectives to the students often and well. This book is intended to help you think about what choices to make as you look ahead to teaching your own Contracts course. It also provides suggestions about how to implement your choices as you make advance preparations for the course, as well as in your day-to-day conduct of the classroom.

This book is a companion to a more general book, Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching, by Howard E. Katz and Kevin Francis O’Neill. Its purpose is to complement the introduction to law school teaching contained in that volume and to provide specific suggestions for the professor who will be teaching first-year Contracts. Although the two books present the points of view and preferences of their respective authors, they share common themes. At heart, both emphasize planning and transparency. As we have made some efforts not to duplicate specific content, you may find it helpful to read the books in tandem.

This book is written largely with the needs of those new to teaching in mind. Much of its advice is appropriate for professors who, although familiar with contract law generally, would not consider themselves experts in the field. It is my hope, however, that any professor considering teaching Contracts will find something of use in these pages.

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