Professor Karin Mika presented on September 12 at the New England Consortium of Legal Writing Conference. The title of her presentation was “Getting in Touch: How understanding the Educational Backgrounds of our Students Facilitates our Ability to Teach to an Enthusiastic Classroom.” Professor Mika’s presentation focused on how law teachers, in order to be effective, must stay in touch with what is important to students and their educational backgrounds. According to Professor Mika, this may mean staying in touch with pop culture and understanding that students have grown up with computers, over-scheduling, over-regulation of their behavior and time, over-stimulation (in an information and activity overload sense), and standardized testing (which has forced teachers to focus on memorization of facts rather than deep thought.)
Professor Mika’s presentation did not advocate the need for glitzy presentations, or coddling students, but rather suggested that understanding where students have come from may help in understanding why students now learn (or don’t learn) the way they do (or don’t). Thus, Professor Mika’s main thesis is that a lot more explanation as to “why” is necessary in the classroom as well as more current analogies to circumstances that students can relate to.