Expectations of what I teach
Recently, a tenured professor walked into my office, holding a student-written paper. The professor was teaching an advanced course in which students had to write a scholarly paper. "I'm very upset that our students can't write," he said. "Look at this. It's terrible."
The professor then pointed out some of the writing problems in the paper. Some were analytical and structural, but some were problems of grammar, punctuation, usage, and style.
My first unspoken reaction was that it is not my job to teach students the analytical and structural approach to writing scholarly papers. If the professor wants the scholarly papers to be written in a certain way, he should teach that way to his students. He cannot assume students already know how. All I teach is memos and briefs, which are not the same as scholarly papers.
My second unspoken reaction was that it is not my job to teach students grammar, punctuation, usage, and style. If the professor wants the scholarly papers to be well written from those perspectives, he should recommend a style manual, refer the student to the writing center, or work with the student individually to fix those problems. All I teach is memos and briefs.
Were my unspoken reactions wrong?
The subtext here is that many of the tenured faculty seem to believe that students should emerge from the first-year legal-writing course with a solid foundation in grammar, punctuation, usage, and style and a mastery of all forms of written legal analysis.