PROBLEMS OF AN “AVERAGE LAW SCHOOL”
Written by: Utkarsh Arora, Student, ICFAI Law School, Dehradun
Students, are they purely the sufferers or victims of a system that proselytizes mediocrity and perpetuates amateurism, or do they have no one but their own insouciant attitude and lack of passion that is making them suffer?
Anyways answer to this question just like other strenuous and complicated questions, stands halfway.
Be it an elite institution or a Non-elite institution; all of them consists of only 2 things, students in the first place and teachers on the other. It is quite evident that students today, are involved in the acts of self-destruction and are doing a huge disservice to the legal profession which is fundamentally actuated by choice and is not a compulsion. But we cannot solely blame the students for their failure to excel in a race which many of them don’t even know is being run.
“Problems of an average law school”, there can be many and there are many, like woefully inadequate infra, poor placements, uninformed faculty, etc but, we’ll start with those problems that are actually contributing in the maintenance of this prevailing mediocrity and have just lost its sight from the generation’s eyes. (Furtado, 2015)
So, keeping First things first, let’s start “with human behavior”.
Principally, both students, as well as teachers should understand that good score doesn’t graduate happiness or success or a well paying job in life but excellence and internal satisfaction do, with this, comes into the picture of the very first exception of an elite institution, where discipline is not misapprehended with dictatorship or slavery. Law undoubtedly can act as a catalyst to realization but there is no cure for human beahvior.
In an average law school, yes, we have such teachers who are using “marks” and “Attendance” as lollipops to gather attention and false respect, teachers who are least bothered to build and encourage curiosity in students, teachers who are busy making their students believe that scoring high is the be-all and end-all of getting an education, yes there are teachers who see their students as the vessels to be filled rather than lights to be lighted, but we cannot lay all the blame on the doors of these teachers only, as we all know that the prevailing mediocrity is being shouldered equally. If we have teachers in the first place then we have students on the other, because such students who are genuinely interested in enriching their knowledge are very few in number, rather we can find a large number of students who are deliberately relinquishing their chase towards excellence and are busy delineating a picture of exceptionally lazy personalities with a poor intellectual skill set. Basically, if we see, then these students are actually playing a major role in the existence of such problems, and if they are not assertive, informed, desirous and ambitious, then these are the reasons enough to dwindle the status quo.
Then comes, “The defective system of recruitment” in the second place
Just because someone is having really great subject knowledge doesn’t means that s(he) would be able to impart it in the same way. There is an element named experience which actually draws a subtle line of difference between the teachers of an elite and a non-elite institution. In India, basically, UGCNET is a prominent method of teacher recruitment which is hellish flawed, because UGCNET, all in all, what it does is, tests the memory power of a prospective teacher and is least bothered with the imparting and teaching capabilities of the individual concerned. Then the whole traffic of such teachers is diverted not towards the elite institutions, rather it is rerouted towards these average law schools, as these elite institutions actually demand some real experience which this traffic undoubtedly lacks.
“An Abysmal Lot of Students” holds the 3rd position in this list of problems.
Basically in an Average law school, there are two types of students. Firstly those, who were capable of entering into these elite institutions, but failed to do so and the others who are not even capable of failing. If we seek for the aforesaid ratio then approximately it would be (1:9), that means in every 10 students we have 9 such students who are afraid of even trying or in other words those who are not even capable of failing. So, it is not very hard to believe that such aforesaid ratio of students with a really frail caliber is wholly responsible for the maintenance of such ailing mediocrity and whacking problems. Students therein are such mystified, nonplussed, perplexed and distracted that they don’t even know why they are doing what they are doing. This attitude, which is undoubtedly oblivious, can be considered fruitful to an extent as it provides opportunities to explore the world and oneself, but at the same time it can be dangerous too, as “A ship sailing without a destination is by all means doomed”. (Meghna, 2010)
Then, a very basic but a fatal problem, “The Environment, which becomes the controller”
How can we expect from these students to engrave their paths out on their own, when they are being exposed to such an atrocious environment where they are radically surrounded by some really incompetent adults. Adults who have done very little in their lives be it a teacher from that unit of mass production i.e. UGCNET, or students who are not even capable of failing, and are miles away from trying. And so, it is quite normal to have such students those who don’t even know the meaning of the terms like proviso, prima facie, attorney and appellate even after successfully completing their law courses, students who have not even read a single judgment, students who surmise strongly that objectifying people of the opposite gender is more interesting and so-called cool than questioning the legal arguments, students who believe that education is all about copying the answers in a rampant manner and just passing the exams, yes we have such students who believe that internships, moot courts and extracurricular activities are completely trivial in nature and are nothing but a mere waste of time.
Now comes a pint-size but a powerhouse problem, “Lack of research culture”.
How many of us, be it students or teachers are genuinely putting in efforts with some real zest and zeal to develop and encourage a thriving academic culture?
How many of us are following that path of inquisitiveness?
Why do you think India is lagging behind in research work?
Let’s start with the blame game, because that is exactly what an average law school is all about, Lack of resources, lack of good faculty, lack of funds, etc, etc and etc. Like seriously, does a good research project needs all of them?
What exactly it needs is an inquisitive and an intellectually agile personality with the same mindset. Basically, the eminence of research work is not understood well by the students, they should understand, especially the freshmen that whatever career path they choose, research and analytical skill is the mother of all skills and googling, unfortunately, is not a part of this research & analytical skillset.
Moving further, Perception, it is the key, what perception an individual is having in his/her mind for a particular place really matters and when it turns negative it becomes venomous. The Negative perception of a college’s social as well as physical climate contributes to high absenteeism which in turn contributes to low semester results and poor academic achievement, with this in mind let’s resort to some basic but cardinal problems of an average law school. (Panndey, 2018)
So once again keeping first things first, let’s start with “infrastructure, which in sooth is woefully inadequate”.
We have all the potential to be the best but we are not able to remove this subsisting mediocrity and the reason to it is still unknown. There are various things that a modern university needs, like Wi-Fi connectivity in all classrooms, CCTV cameras for security purpose, latest law books and databases on law. Currently if we see then these average law schools they have subscribed either to none or to any one of the databases, but in today’s world, it is need of the hour, to subscribe to more databases so that the students have plenty to read from and understand.
Along with it, if we talk about the curriculum and examination there is a need for both qualitative and quantitative change. Nowadays, the prime focus is on introducing more subjects and not how to teach them. Many prominent subjects like private international law are not yet taught whereas it is the need of the hour.
It is the high time we all need to understand that repeating the same questions every year and asking the students to mug up and pass the exams is of no use.
Campus placements provide students with a foot-in-the-door opportunity, enabling them to start their career without facing the real life-struggle, competition offered by peers and the family pressure. Right after they have completed their graduation or post graduation course, a good placement record gives them a competitive edge in this market of education. Furthermore, placements have gradually become an integral part of an institute and its offerings, but unfortunately law schools with that tag of mediocrity are not able to maintain the same. They are somewhere or the other failing to attract some prestigious employers or companies. However we cannot lay all the blame on the doors of these institutions only, because students are equally responsible for the same. (Mandhani, 2019)
If we seek for the reasons of this failure then there are many, but the prime reason for this failing evolution of placement record is the students themselves, they are not up to the mark, but anyways there are many colleges who come up with a firm come back that the requirement of a particular employer was different and the students who appeared for the interview did not match the profile. But do you really think that these companies or these employers are so dumbfounded or perplexed?
In total, the students should strive to become a person who is really inquisitive and exceptionally agile because that is exactly what an employer or a company is looking for, these employers or the companies they seek for the one who can actually benefit their company or the organization at once, irrespective of what scores they have been scoring. But, unfortunately when it comes to the truth, which is to be told, then this failing evolution of placement record is actually aided by the students themselves, as they are exceptionally nonchalant and lazy, completely unaware of what they are doing why they are doing, and these students who are just studying to score some good marks, they should try to understand that good score doesn’t graduates happiness or success, yes, good score do attracts the employers and helps you look red in the crowd of blacks, but a good score isn’t the only thing what an employer is looking for, so let’s stop being slavish towards marks and start being subservient towards the “Art of Polymathy”.
To conclude, all the teachers, as well as the students, should have that sense of self agency because no law can change the human behaviour. A person changes his/her conduct only when they internally realize the good or bad. A teacher cannot get every student motivated to study or cultivate their interest in a particular subject, as students being adults, will do only those things which they want to do. Motivation, dedication, perseverance and commitment cannot be instilled from outside. There are always going to be those actively disassociated students, who just don’t want to study, and the reasons for this disassociation are endless. And as far as teachers are concerned, there is nothing much to say in it, but yes it is not easy to be a student in a system which is probably built to judge you, rather than to mould you and to bring the best in you. (Nair, 2019)
Change is the need of the hour because, “Nothing changes if nothing changes”.
Students they need to understand that they would really go a long way if they cultivate some modesty and curiosity towards everything and everyone around them, instead of running blindly after the marks and attendance. And on the other hand, it would be great if the imparting ability of a teacher is also tested with UGCNET.
Furthermore, it would augur well for the cause of education if universities are less bureaucratized and commercialized, and more significance is given to creativity rather than toeing the line, as we cannot have dictatorship in the name of discipline because, in a gentle way, we have to shake the world.