Columbia JReubs

Friday, October 13, 2006

Education, class, and culture

On the NE corner of Broadway and 112th, there is a placard on the first building indicating that John Dewey used to live there. So, with a nod to our neighborhood's eminent former resident, I thought it would be worthwhile to talk about education at our Monday lunch.

Although legal education will undoubtedly come up, I'd like to focus on public primary/secondary education. Many of us will be considering putting our kids in public schools soon--thus, this is a topic of current importance. Even if children are not on your horizon, public education is relevant as you will undoubtedly be someday hiring people emerging from the system.

The issues I think most relevant:

1. How does the theory behind progressive education (that discovery, which is enabled by diversity, is the essence of modern learning) square with Mormonism's belief that we are a people apart? To put it bluntly: when we separate our children from their classmates, through either ad hoc (don't hang out with certain types of kids) or systematic (gated communities; charter schools; homeschooling) measures, do we inhibit their ability to learn?

2. A related question: what is the effect of doctrine, as an institution, in modern learning? In the short selection I attached to the email, Dewey argues that customary learning (of which doctrine is part) is anachronistic, limiting. In a sense, our belief in personal revelation acknowledges this argument. However, doctrine still plays a role. How does this work?

3. I've heard our dean say to crowds that "a Columbia JD is a ticket into this country's elite." True. First, how do you feel morally about your new position? Can you be sincere to your beliefs while also being a member of the ruling class (reference: god v. mammon)? Do you cope with this by either, A, choosing not to rule (i.e. your just going to make lots of money and leave decisionmaking to someone else) or, B, thinking that ruling is not dirty work (one is reminded of the observation that "nobody rules innocently")? Second, how should we educate our children in light of the implicit class issues? For example, should I send Madeline to private school in New York so that she may have, in the words of a colleague, "the best possible opportunities"? Or is this just embedding her in a corrupt establishment? Furthermore, does my family have a responsibility to the local public school system?

If you want the most famous recent take on education and hierarchy in legal education, see Duncan Kennedy's piece at

Other than that, the only other suggested reading for the discussion is attached to the email I sent announcing this posting. It's short, but good.

One more thing: I'm coming at this topic from the assumption that education is not socially neutral. We, with our Enlightenment tradition, like to think it is. I.e. we're just going to school to get learn objective principles/facts/theories. Perhaps this is true in the natural sciences. But it is certainly not true in law and business. Furthermore, there is always a socialization element regardless of the subject matter.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Rainmaking Video Conference?

Good evening comrades,

Those of us on the JReub politburo need some wider input on two related questions:

1. Do we want to broadcast the video conference discussed below during our weekly cabal?

2. Do we want to invite the student body to attend it also? (we'd get a larger room of course)

Please let us know your thoughts. If most of us don't answer in the affirmative to the first question, then there is likely little point in doing the latter. But we weren't sure what you would all prefer.

viva la revolucion,


> [] On Behalf Of Sean
> Nobmann
> Sent: Monday, October 09, 2006 1:15 PM
> To:
> Subject: [Jrclsstuchap] Video Conference
> Chapter Presidents:
> Some have asked for more information regarding the upcoming video
> conference. Brother Bill Atkin, former managing partner for
> various offices of Baker & McKenzie and currently International Counsel
> for the Church, will be speaking on client development, or rainmaking.
> The conference will begin at 12:20 EST on Tues. Oct. 24th. We
> currently intend to re-webcast the training each subsequent hour so that
> the schools in each time zone can show the training as near-to-live
> as possible.
> The content of the training is directed toward your whole school,
> and should be treated as a large scale event for your entire law
> school. That means: the biggest room, the most funds for lunch, and the
> highest level and quality of advertising.
> You should forward this email to your chapter members, and you
> should also get in touch with whoever is in charge of your law school's
> media department. Brother Atkin is a dynamic speaker and an extremely
> accomplished attorney. He also has considerable experience not
> only developing clients at the highest level, but also in training
> others how to develop clients at the highest level.
> Because most law professors have not been in private practice
> long enough to have cultivated these skills at a high level, client
> development is generally under-emphasized at law school. We, as
> the JRCLS student chapters, have the opportunity to fill a
> significant gap by making this training available to our peers.
> I urge each of you to make this event of high priority. It will
> take place two weeks from tomorrow. Please feel free to send me any
> questions you may have.
> Cheers,
> Sean
> _______________________________________________
> JRCLSStuChap mailing list
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Procedure & Revelation in Ecclesiastical Trials

By popular demand, this is my topic for discussion tomorrow. Sorry I'm a day late posting.

I've been working on this paper for a while now (mostly in my mind rather than putting pen to paper). It came out of a discussion about Joshua ch. 7. Basically, the question is, if we have revelation, why is there any need for a process or procedure in religious trials?

Joshua 7: Clearly the Lord is involved in the process (v. 14), but if He is going to reveal the individual to Joshua, why the elaborate process? In the words of a colleague: "Why doesn't God just tell Joshua who it is?"

Another examples from OT: Num. 5:11-28. We assume the Lord is going to determine the outcome, rather than viewing this as superstition, by why the ritual process?

In the D&C, procedure for the High Council is relatively elaborate (D&C 102:13-23), but it clearly creates a role for revelation in making decisions (v. 23). Current practice of High Councils focuses more on revelation, but retains the basic procedural structure.

I'll post some of my thoughts below, and talk about them a little tomorrow. I'd love to have other identify other examples from the scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, contribute your thoughts and explanations, and provide comments, critiques, and criticism of my thoughts.

See you all tomorrow!