Using your Life Continuum to Make the Most of your Law School Education
By Daniel June
Training is something that happens to you, something that is put into you; dogs are trained, tigers are trained, children are trained. Education is another manner. As the Latin of the word suggests, education is something that is drawn out of you, something you consciously participate in. Only adults can be educated. And to get the most out of your law school education, you should be producing something out of yourself beyond what your professors are putting into you.
Maximizing your education means having a purpose for it. You know why you chose law school, what field you want to get into. Your education will be expedited if you can put your school experience in terms of a continuum of your past and future.
Try if you can to see all new facts, all new principles and practices, in terms of experiences you have already had. This requires an imaginative application of even abstract figures into your memories and personal experiences.
Consider how memory Olympiads can memorize all the numbers in a phone book. They use a pneumonic device making stories out of the numbers and their patterns. They are just as human as you and me, so they remember stories, not abstractions, just like you and me. By tying all you learn into terms of your private and personal experiences, you will fuse it with your memory.
The continuum goes from your past into the future, into your purpose. This is why you will want to do volunteer work or get work that will expose you as much as possible into your future work. Read blogs and articles about the line of work you will go into, and don’t be shy about meeting lawyers for coffee. The more of a sense you have of what will be expected of you, the more you can appreciate what you are being taught in school. Lessons that might seem detached and abstract will instead be seen as vital and necessary. You will care more for them, you will embrace them, because you will know how to use them.
Keeping this continuum in mind, the relation of your education to your past and future does take more work, more activity, but that activity makes a vital tie of your education to your daily life. How was it that Darwin could remember vast amounts of zoological facts? It was because he had a pet theory (the theory of evolution) that gave him a purpose: he could absorb all facts in terms of his purpose. In the same way, the more you keep your purpose in mind, and the more you see it in terms of your lived and personal experience, the dearer will be the truths of your education.