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Professor Biden:

Here's an interesting report on Senator Biden's turn as a professor. It seems he got high marks.

Arkady:
I guess he really likes to teach:


From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
WILMINGTON, Del. -- With Cheney-esque stealth, Biden made a surprise appearance this morning at the Constitutional law class he had been scheduled to teach before his selection as Barack Obama's running mate.

The campaign had not publicly announced Biden's trip to the Widener School of Law this morning. In fact, Biden spokesperson David Wade seemed unaware of it himself until after the fact.

"What???" Wade said in an email when told about Professor Biden's activities. "He needs to tell me this stuff."


Source
9.8.2008 9:52am
AntonK (mail):
Yes, it is common that the dumbest and least demanding professor gets the highest marks from their students. No surprise there...

For a better sense of Biden's ability to perform in anything approaching a serious manner, see this post on his Judiciary years from Powerline.
9.8.2008 9:54am
Arkady:
Anton, there's nothing in the piece that JA references that supports in the least your "dumbest and least demanding" canard. Quite the reverse, I'd say.
9.8.2008 10:02am
Vernunft (mail) (www):
Isn't Widener the place with the 25% attrition?
9.8.2008 10:21am
J. Aldridge:
Was Obama a "professor of law" as he been claiming?
9.8.2008 10:23am
Sarcastro (www):
Biden was a Prof, you say? Well, I'm sure he was a crappy one! High marks for Democrats are cause they tax and spend. He probably bribed the students with our tax dolalrs.

Now that I have discounted anything positive about Biden, allow me to direct your attention to a much more important issue. Check out my this objective blog post about how much Biden sucks at bidensux.com!
9.8.2008 10:26am
Arkady:

Was Obama a "professor of law" as he been claiming?


This was done to death on this blog. Search the archives.
9.8.2008 10:26am
rarango (mail):
I can see where Senator Biden would make a very popular instructor. He has the gift of gab (and that isnt meant to be derogatory).
9.8.2008 10:29am
The Ace (mail):
Good times,


Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for vice president, departed Sunday from party doctrine on abortion rights, declaring that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception.
...
Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, was also questioned about his views, on the ABC News program "This Week." Last month, in an interview with the Rev. Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in California, Mr. Obama skirted a question about when life begins, saying that determining such a thing was "above my pay grade." On ABC on Sunday, Mr. Obama characterized his response then as a little "too flip," adding, "All I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions.




Can't wait to watch the Kossiacs go wild...
9.8.2008 10:57am
Lively:
Celebrity factor at work.

Everyone want to be able to say I had Biden as a prof back in law school. I'm sure he's a good speaker.
9.8.2008 11:00am
js5 (mail):
It's interesting to see how some people have these knee-jerk reactions to Democrats, that nothing they do, can ever, possibly, be good.

I think a senator teaching a class for his or her constituents, anywhere, is a good thing. And moreso, when the focus is on constitutional law. I can't possibly see how people are making disparaging remarks against a person who has been doing this for many years now (twice a year).
9.8.2008 11:12am
Wallace (mail):
Judging by the article, he turned it into a current events forum, if not a personal soap-box. I'm guessing that bored, possibly unemployed 3Ls took it in the hopes of earning easy credit and possibly leveraging his connections. I wouldn't say that this makes him a "great" professor by any stretch, and certainly no better than Obama at UC.
9.8.2008 11:26am
Wallace (mail):
js5: I've seen some flattering comments. I don't know why you're so immediately defensive.
9.8.2008 11:31am
js5 (mail):
I have his Course Materials from Spring 2008 sitting on my desk and I've been reading through it over the last hour after this blog post went up. Contains Scalia opinions/dissents, Federalist Papers, and The Tempting of America by Robert Bork. That, and a number of congressional and senate records, law review articles, and about two dozen cases and a few of his own speeches and briefs. Looks like about 100-150 pages of reading a week. Doesn't seem like it could be even remotely boring. I've got a friend in the class this semester (a 2L) and I'll find out what his thoughts were from this past weekend.
9.8.2008 11:35am
js5 (mail):
I'm not defensive towards Biden...I'm definitely not on his side of the political spectrum. What I do rail against is the assumption that simply being a Democrat and a Senator with an 'interesting' record makes one a bad 'celebrity' professor. I think the article was a bit star-struck myself, and like I said, I'll be asking a friend in Biden's class for this semester for a more objective account.
9.8.2008 11:41am
Wahoowa:
The partisan hackery in this post is silly but to be expected.

I'm not pro-Democrat by any means, but I imagine Biden would be a fun and engaging professor. He seems like a nice guy and he's a relatively good speaker. So long as he knew the subject well I would probably give him high marks too.
9.8.2008 11:46am
Wahoowa:
And by "this post" I meant "these comments."
9.8.2008 11:47am
Hoosier:
Is 100-150 pages a typical load in LS classes? Is it mostly case law?

(Just curious. I've never seen any numbers before.)
9.8.2008 11:57am
enjointhis:
It's relatively easy to be a mediocre teacher, but quite difficult to be an excellent one. Also, teaching ability draws on a different skill set than pure subject matter knowledge. I'm happy (and ready to accept) that he seems to be an accomplished instructor.
9.8.2008 11:59am
enjointhis:

Is 100-150 pages a typical load in LS classes? Is it mostly case law?


It's a relatively heavy load, as I recall.
9.8.2008 12:01pm
PLR:
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for vice president, departed Sunday from party doctrine on abortion rights, declaring that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception. ...

And as a Methodist with only passing interest in biology, I agree with him. And I'm entirely pro-choice.

Next.
9.8.2008 12:12pm
Chris 24601 (mail) (www):
"It was very topical ... He would bring up the events of the day and tell us what he was going through, relative to the judicial hearings. What he said he felt about the process was amazing."

Biden: Man of Amazing Feelings!
9.8.2008 12:27pm
Obama-Biden '08:
I don't get why we would care about the candidates' teaching skills or lack thereof. The President's teaching load is rather light.
9.8.2008 12:47pm
Arkakdy:

Judging by the article, he turned it into a current events forum, if not a personal soap-box.


We must have read different articles:



Clark said he remembered Biden let his students have a great degree of leeway in questioning him or expressing their opinion, but that he did not try to force them to see his way of thinking if they were at odds.

"He never interjected his own viewpoint as a Democrat," Clark said. "He listened to everyone and then brought real-life situations" to bear on the discussions.
9.8.2008 12:47pm
EH (mail):
It's interesting to see how some people have these knee-jerk reactions to Democrats, that nothing they do, can ever, possibly, be good.

How else do you dehumanize people you're convinced are your enemies?
9.8.2008 1:24pm
Rich W (mail):
I teach information systems both undergrad and grad courses at a university. A good professor presents the material in a way that encourages discussion, expression of opinion, (with some justification required), and debate. A student should not be able to tell which way the prof believes until after the class is done if even then. The only time my students do know is when we talk about ethical situations in the work place and I am very clear that it is my opinion and theirs may differ.
9.8.2008 1:27pm
SeaDrive:

A student should not be able to tell which way the prof believes until after the class is done if even then.


That's certainly appropriate in the general run of things, but when you have a guest with expert knowledge, it makes sense to take advantage.
9.8.2008 1:39pm
PaddyL (mail):
Biden is a good example of why people like clowns.
9.8.2008 2:06pm
Steve Reeve (mail):
PLR said:

"And as a Methodist with only passing interest in biology, I agree with him. And I'm entirely pro-choice."

Best post of the thread!

And as a biologist with more than passing interest in methodology, I agree with you.
9.8.2008 2:24pm
David Warner:
"Can't wait to watch the Kossiacs go wild..."

Careful, don't want to cut too much into your bear baiting and cockfighting time...

As for Biden, I can vouch that Jimmy Carter is an engaging Sunday School teacher, although he is a Baptist, which I realize could frighten some people.

Biden's willingness to employ the Federalist Papers alone should win him some props.
9.8.2008 3:02pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Why is it impossible to imagine that a politician can be friendly and likable? That's pretty much the job description, folks. If you're on his side, you'll swear he has a heart of gold. That's the way they all work.
9.8.2008 3:07pm
Dave N (mail):
I suspect Joe Biden probably is a very engaging instructor. I think it is quite commendable that he tries to weave current events (and hopefully, current cases) into his discussions.

I will give him his due when he has earned it (as he has apparently done here) but I am still not planning on voting for him.
9.8.2008 3:14pm
Commodore:
Hoosier:

At my law school (Vanderbilt), my class readings ranged from twenty to one-hundred pages per class for two or three day per week classes. Forty or fifty pages per class was typical, and the great majority of it was usually case law or, less frequently, statutory law.

In other words, fifty pages per class is on the heavy side of typical in my experience, but only where the class meets two or three times a week. I only had one or two classes that met only once weekly (like Biden's class apparently does), so I couldn't generalize.
9.8.2008 3:23pm
Lawyer (mail):
I suspect that the positive reviews of Professor/Senator Biden are unrelated to his performance as a professor. But for a different reason: he's a freakin' Senator. Law students' number one worry is jobs. That, and employment. Which means connections. Every law student worth their LSAT score in that class probably complimented Biden in everything from his Socratic method to his tanning method, all with some sort of anecdote to indicate which student was doing the reviewing.
9.8.2008 3:50pm
loki13 (mail):
Hoosier,


I'd tell you what my reading load was, except I never did any reading. Too busy learning to 'think like a lawyer'.

(I think I was assigned, on average, 25-50 pgs. night per class. But that undervalues the reading- for seminars, for example, there was often even more reading. And don't get me started on WQE or article screening for Law Review. If you don't enjoy reading don't go to law school; if you don't enjoy arguing about tedious formatting rules, learning the best way to to cite unpublished cases from Zimbabwe trial courts, late nights, and reading 200 articles by professors that are so jazzed up by this internet thing they fell the need to get hip and cite Wikipedia and myspace- don't join the law review.)
9.8.2008 4:01pm
dr:

Law students' number one worry is jobs. That, and employment.


Also: getting work. And finding a gig.

:-)
9.8.2008 4:11pm
Oren:

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for vice president, departed Sunday from party doctrine on abortion rights, declaring that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception. ...

Really? I'm in the life-sciences and I'm pretty sure life began about 3-4 trillion years ago and has been going on pretty much continuously ever since.
9.8.2008 4:17pm
Federal Dog:
Chris 24601 wins the thread.
9.8.2008 4:22pm
Hoosier:
Oren

Really? I'm in the life-sciences and I'm pretty sure life began about 3-4 trillion years ago and has been going on pretty much continuously ever since.

When this election is over, I'll try to get you up to speed on what issues are being debate in the contemporary public square.
9.8.2008 5:41pm
Hoosier:
loki

if you don't enjoy arguing about tedious formatting rules, learning the best way to to cite unpublished cases from Zimbabwe trial courts,

OK. I get your point. But let's get real with the hypotheticals. I mean, what's not to love about formatting research papers on the jurisprudence of southern Africa?
9.8.2008 5:43pm
Hoosier:
Commodore--Thanks for the replies. That seems incredibly heavy for case law texts. It's hard for me to know what this means for Biden's class, since I haven't read Bork's books, and don't know how he used the Federalist.

But I'd like to have at least one McCain supporter on this thread make a concession to our wayward, Obamphiliac brethren: I don't agree with Biden on a host of issues. Etc.

But there's no reason to assume that his critics know more about his teaching than do his students.

I don't care for Woodrow Wilson, but he appears to have been a good lecturer. It happens.
9.8.2008 5:50pm
LM (mail):
EH:

It's interesting to see how some people have these knee-jerk reactions to Democrats, that nothing they do, can ever, possibly, be good.

How else do you dehumanize people you're convinced are your enemies?

That's not entirely fair. About half of them are vilifying opponents they're convinced aren't human.
9.8.2008 6:01pm