July 2012 IssueL.I.G.H.T. B.U.L.B. Moments for New Teachers
by Perry Binder, J.D.
I never dreamed of being a college professor. Does anybody? When my third grade teacher asked us about our dream job, Molly said an astronaut; Evan, an actor. Perry: “Obtain a terminal degree and lecture on legal morasses.”
Every student wants a good laugh, I think. Humor can be found even in the most stressful situations. For example, I tell students that I can’t offer legal advice. But that didn’t stop “Steve” from calling me after class in a panic: “The judge gave me ten days for speeding; they’re taking me away!” So that night, I drove to the county jail, where the innkeeper ushered me into a tiny drab room facing glass. Steve appeared on the other side, looking weary and wearing an ugly orange jumpsuit. I never practiced criminal law, so I just put my hand up to the glass and spread my fingers apart because I saw that done on TV. Steve finally smiled and put his hand up to mine. He told me what happened, but all I could do was stare at our mitts and think: “Hey, this TV hand thing really works!”
While Steve’s dilemma was no laughing matter, I use that story on the first day of class to set the tone for our semester: Understanding the law is serious business and applied unequally to young college students without counsel. But we will laugh and learn a lot together.
Excerpt: 99 Motivators for College Success