Monday, March 21, 2016
120. Open Notes
When I used to teach in a law school, I had a policy of open notes during exams. I guess my students loved me for it, but soon they realized that the answers to my questions are not in any book. My theory is that the true measure of learning is in the ability of the students to determine the relevance of available legal information given a particular problem and the ability to apply the legal information to the problem. This process presupposes that the student has read through the material, determined the important matters, synthesized the lessons, and has found their connection to real life scenarios. So the students who have not been doing their homework will never pass the exam even if I allow them to open their notes during exams. They would more likely than not miss the point, fail to spot the relevant issues, and cite the wrong law. This is the same view I have for the presidential debates. It doesn't matter if they have open notes. If they don't know their stuff, they would be muttering irrelevant information and they would miss the point of every question. Besides, intelligence is less about data, but more about disciplined thinking, just like the presidency being less about debates but more about leadership. Incidentally, the candidate -- who claimed to be unaware of the no notes policy and insisted on a compromise where everyone is not allowed to have notes except him -- has already shown the brand of self-entitled idiotic leadership he brings. Heaven forbid that he wins.