I heard a story on NPR's Morning Edition today that has to be blogged about. Boston University Law Professor Mark Pettit sings in his Contracts class. What's more, his songs are parodies of pop songs, and they are about the cases he teaches in Contracts. I suppose the experience of being in his class, when he sings, must be like learning the law from Weird Al Yankovic.
There is a good bit of scholarly literature on the subject of humor in education, and how humor improves learning. For a list of some scholarly articles on the subject (all of which are presumably not funny), see here.
Pettit is admirably shameless. People remember something when they laugh about it, and words set to music or in poetry are easier to remember. And as the NPR piece demonstrates, Pettit has engaged students both in and outside the classroom: they pay attention in class, they think about the subject of Contracts outside of class, and they write lyrics for Pettit to perform. That's what's called active learning, and it improves the quality of education. And it makes the experience more fun.
Maybe I should have a Contracts lymerick contest next semester. Or for that matter, why not now? So here are are two lymericks-in-progress for my next class, on the subjects of (a) Leonard v. Pepsico (the video referred to in the case is located here) and (b) Empro Manufacturing Co. v. Ball-Co Manufacturing, Inc., 870 F.2d 423 (7th Cir. 1989) (I can't find a free link to the case). Those who have nothing better to do--and those who do have something better to do but would rather do this--can complete the lymericks and post as comments. Feel free, of course, to revise the lymericks as needed. And it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: keep it clean!
PepsiCo did firmly reject
Leonard's claim for a Harrier Jet
[Fill in the rest?]
When its letter of intent was rejected
Empro said "contracts must be respected"
[Fill in the rest?]