Sunday, May 15, 2005

Teaching at Örebro

As promised, I wanted to talk a bit about my teaching experience at Örebro University in Örebro, Sweden. It was definitely interests, being my first University lecture where the students would actually NEED to listen to me. I've done other lectures where it's more educational (like a seminar where people show up to listen and forget all about your subject as they walk out the door).

The university is across a quaint river in a neighborhood. Before 1985 (I believe) the university was a högskolan, ahigher or training school focusing on skills, not a college or university. The campus looks like huge cement blocks with mostly two-story buildings. There was tons of on campus housing, which must be nice, and about 7 cafe's intersperced in the buildings. Apparently there are 13,000 students, 77% of which are female (and yes, some of you silently chuckle as you appreciate the irony, but please read on). I have to admit I did not like the campus so much, but the rooms were nice. The normal, swedish, Ikea-esque design with ample lighting and electrical outlets. The interesting thing being that the students were all uber friendly, probably thinking I was a student as well, so I got lots of tjena's, legit?and hand shakes. Normal, casual introduction stuff. Thank god I didn't wear a tie to work, all the faculty I saw were in jeans. I shoulda work jeans :(

The class and the coffee break rule. So I start class with an example to use during the lecture: the coffee break rule. Being ambitious, I jump right into asking the class to give me the rule. They were offended that I'd even consider NOT giving them the coffee break rule, so they were more than willing to help me set out the ground rules. The basics are: (1) academic hours are 45 minutes, (2) 15 minutes are the coffee break, (3) We have the break at the end of the hour, (4) we ALWAYS have the coffee break. Of course, I intended to stick closely to this rule, since I'd likely need the time to breathe. The class seemed really nice, some more 'intense' than others. one who kept asking questions was the hawt, so it was a bit distracting, but other than that it went okay.

First hour. I was definitely nervous the first hour. The admin who helped me find the room and setup was asking me all kinds of questions, which is uber unusual for a swede, but she seemed genuinely interested in what brought me all the way to Örebro from Stockholm. She made a comment on my age(I guess I look younger than 26?) and then left. The students came in and filled the 30 or so seats. I started my Word note right away to allay their fears of not having some notes from me, and I went right into the Rules of Persuasive Legal English. These were supposed to take me 3 hours. It took 30 minutes, even with repetion

Second hour. So the second hour I returned to the high points like structure and passive voice. I really doubt the students 'got' passive voice even though I did 25 examples for them. Structure also seemed to be a problem, since I started getting questions about,"well, what if I want to do this..." Um, yeah, every paragraph, going to be Conclusion, Rule, Application, Conclusion. I want all my students using CRAC!!! I also have to field questions about fluency, and recommended English fluency is short sentences containing one thought. These students totally did not get this. I had to go through this 6 times, no joke, before I got the proverbial sigh and, "oh key" (okay for swedes). I was at least relaxing, since they were starting to get stuff.

I hung out with some of the students for lunch. A group of students took me to lunch which was awesome. We talked about campus life and what there was to do ni the city. Apparently they were not frats, which was a big deal to them, and the city was dead. So this group mostly stayed in and played lots of playstation 2 (go figure). We totally bonded over the video games since I'm a freak about that stuff. I half expected them to invite me over for gaming, since they were surprised I was leaving right after the lecture. This same group skipped the last part of the lecture, lol, go figure. We didn't talk school the entire time we were at lunch which was really nice.

Third hour. Everyone was totally rejuvinated after lunching. I had about 45 minutes of questions to field so I didn't have to come up with too much. I was going to let them go early except they kept asking about footnoting etc. I did happen to lay out all of the argument styles for the different sides. Hopefully they use them since it seems like that is exactly what the professor wants. The hardest thing for them to get a hold on was making an argument that does not exist. There was a clear violation of Art 28 in their fact pattern. The State was in violation, so the State writers would need to still argue that there was no violation and then say, "in the alternative, and only if this court should find a violation exists." Um, I got about 6 hands in one go, "How can I MAKE that argument if I know there is a violation??!" I almost threw up my hands in frustration, since I assumed it would be clear. First, we use CRAC, second you have to make the argument against a Violation because the State will fire you if you conceed the issue upfront, and third you are lawyers, if you can't make an argument that doesn't exist you need to get out NOW while you are ahead. They finally got it, after I made the argument for them.

Fourth hour. I spent most of this time going over specific questions, recovering footnotes in GREAT detail -- having already seen some of the work, these students DEFINITELY got footnoting, which rocks, since it's a not-so-easy subject. I also illustrated CRAC, again, for the 9234592347852389752389075289 time, using Battery as an example. Battery is unwanted touching. I went through the example and I think they got it, but when I put it up there, there were definitely snickers going through the group. I didn't have the heart to tell them that battery applies to sexual assault as much as it does medical mal practice. Of course, I didn't illustrate a simple example, I used someone driving through an intersection hitting a dog that bites her owner. I showed some of the rules, and where they'd spend their time arguing the points. They seemed happy with the example and had no more questions. We ended 20 minutes early. w00t!

All in all it was a good time. I spoke with Vladimir (the guy who asked me to do the lecture) and he was happy with the results he's recieved so far. I just hope he doesn't have to do any reteaching.

I am now off to gym and to rebury myself in thesis until 5 pm today when I've set my deadline. I hope everyone's had a tremendous weekend.

~B-the-ever-working-diligently (NOT)

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