By Anonymous • February 01, 2007•Curriculum and Classroom Dynamics
By a 2L at the University of Michigan Law School
Why am I afraid to volunteer in class even when I know the answer?
Sometimes our most insightful realizations come to us randomly. Or at least mine seem to. This weekend I had a run in with a peeping Tom, the details of which are irrelevant, however, the important thing was that I knew that it was a situation in which I should call the police, but, instead, I clutched my phone and debated. In the aftermath of filing a police report, I began wondering about why I hesitated. As I thought about other situations where I knew I was right but was reluctant to act, volunteering in class immediately leaped to mind. As an undergrad, I was confident. I raised my hand and contributed to my classes regularly. What had happened to me in law school? The Socratic method and the desire to avoid being labeled as a gunner partially explained my reluctance as a 1L, but as a seasoned 2L in classes where the professors regularly asked for volunteers and I KNEW the answers, what was holding me back? And why does it seem like the people most willing to pop their hands up before the question has even left the professor’s mouth are guys? Come to think of it, the people most likely to ask or contribute off-topic information are also men. Is my reluctance to not speak in class stemming from a personal fear of being wrong, or is it a gender issue? The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that there was something to this. Sure there were strong and outspoken women in my classes, but very few of them were strongly outspoken IN class. Why?