Friday, May 06, 2005

The great sell-back

Nothing feels better after an exam than heading to the bookstore and exchanging a weighty casebook for a wad of cash. The gradual clearing of my bookshelf as the end of exams gets closer is sooooo satisfying, both physically and symbolically. Plus, the sell-back comes just as most of us are realizing the loans have run dry and searching our floorboards for quarters, or personal assets that might be liquefied (can you still sell CD's? what about plasma?).

I started thinking today about what this might say about the kind of educational process we're engaging in here. I remember selling books back in college, but much more selectively. A few still linger on my shelf, mostly for sentimental reasons, and there are a few I wish I hadn't sold back (countless times since moving to New York City I've wished I could look up buildings in my modern architecture textbook). Are we heartless law school drones who care about what we're learning only until the moment the exam is over? Well, yes and no - law school does require a level of acceptance that you will be judged for some things on dumb and arbitrary grounds, and that you will learn some things for the exam and not because of your burning personal passion for civil procedure.

But there's also something nice about what the book sell-back says. The casebooks are just tools to help us understand concepts (evidenced by the fact that most people barely open them in the process of studying for an exam). The fact that the answer is never going to be inside the book (and the fact that everything changes so continually that no book can ever be current) is something I'm growing to like about this whole law thing. That and my wallet being $50 heavier...

2 Comments:

Blogger Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon said...

Also, I doubt lawyers look at their law school casebooks for help. That's what Lexis and Westlaw are for. And think of all that extra weight you won't have to move to that next apartment. And all that dust the books won't accumulate. The 50 bucks now is worth a hell of a lot more than dumping them on the street to be recycled 25 years down the road when you haven't looked at them since finals, and they're no longer valuable to anyone else.

6:35 PM  
Blogger jon said...

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12:03 AM  

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