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July 22, 1978 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-07-22

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Page 8-Saturday, July 22, 1978-The Michigan Daily

To teach to
think or to
practice?
The High Citadel: The Influence of
Harvard Law School 216 pp., Houghton
Mifflin Company, by Joel Seligman
By Stephen Selbst
L AW SCHOOL has not always been a
prerequisite to admission to the bar.
Less than a century ago home study, ap-
prenticeship in a law office, or law school
were all routes that led to the practice of
law.
For those who chose to attend law school,
the academic routine much resembled
other types of classroom instruction. By
night law students struggled to memorize
the major rules of American law, and
during the day professors lectured on and
amplified what was contained in the texts.
During his tenure as dean of Harvard
Law School, Christopher Columbus
Langdell brought revolutionary change to
the manner law is taught in the United
States and created a model of instruction
that has persisted nearly intact for nearly a
century.
It was Langdell who introduced the "case
system" of study. In the case system,
students are asked to read a small number
of cases each day and be prepared to an-
swer professorial questions designed to
stimulate legal reasoning.
Langdell's method works particularly
well with students fresh to the study of law,
for it helps them abandon imprecise
thinking, and in the time-honored phrase of
law professors, "gets them thinking like
lawyers."
More important, ,Harvard students
trained in the Langdell method found them-
selves in increasing demand by private law
firms, which created a further spur for
other law schools to ape the Harvard
system and for potential lawyers to attend
law school.
In The High Citadel, Harvard Law School
graduate Joel Seligman delivers a per-
suasive argument that the success of the
case system has inhibited Harvard law
professors, whom he characterizes as an
unflaggingly stuffy lot, from making any
but the most cosmetic changes in legal
education in the past 100 years despite an
increasing number of studies which have
called for reform.
A corrollary to Seligman's thesis is that
what happens at Harvard continues to be
copied at all other American law schools.
Thus, he writes, influencing curriculum
reform at Harvard will inevitably cause
changes elsewhere.
SELIGMAN ALSO charges that the pre-
sent system is inadequate because it
focuses unduly on theoretical preparation,
graduating students who may have isolated
See BOOKSPage 12...

i
1

'You are about to e

dimension of sight

(

By Gary Geresy
T HE NEWS HAS just gone off the air, ar
Dad in is the mood for a first run movie. H
pushes a button on his personal control centi
and in a matter of seconds Star Wars III appea
on his seven-foot screen. He doesn't have 1
worry about being disturbed because every othe
member of the family is lost in his or her ow
video dreamland.
In the den, mother is watching a tape of th
episode of Soap that she missed last night. Afte
that, she will edit the tape of the family's trip ou
west.
Down the hall, Jimmy gives his compute
command to start a game of baseball. In secon-
ds a voice projected from a speaker in his vide
screen asks what kind of pitch he would like t
throw. Studying the batter, Jimmy calls for G
forkball, and the batter misses it by a mile
Steee-rike one!" the computer umpire announ
ces.
It sounds like a scene from Fahrenheit 451, bu
in a few short years it will be a reality in nearl
every home in America, as it already is in th
test market city of Columbus, Ohio.
'But what really sets Qube
apart from other video
systems is that the viewer can
react to programming
through use of the control
unit's five response buttons.'
Whether we like it or not, television has
become the great American family pastime.
Millions of Americans plan their average week-
day evenings around the television schedule, and
therein lies the problem with the
system-viewers are at the mercy of the three
major networks (and PBS too, if they are lucky)
for their primary means of entertainment: There
is no limit to the kinds of entertainment that can
be presented on television, and a public that is
sick of being a prisoner of Fred Silverman and
Co. is crying out for innovative programming.
W E ARE IN the beginning stages of the
video revelation today. Although several
companies pioneered video projectors in the
early, 50s, they were too advanced for popular
acceptance. Today, one in every five homes ,

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