- Learning by studying versus learning by doing
- 2019-05-16 07:01:53 (GMT)
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I had the first draft of a few transaction documents to send out. My senior associate was waiting. A client was waiting for him to send the transaction documents for the deal. This was due yesterday (yes, I was delayed by a day already).
I was looking at my computer. It was 10 pm. I wasn't sure if everything was alright. My draft was completed by 8 pm but I spent the last two hours fixing something or the other in the formatting and proof-reading the drafts again and again.
I made some minor aesthetic improvements in the process, but I was sure this was not what the firm was billing for. Yet, I had no option. Everything had to be just perfect. I could not hit the send button so easily.
I felt like I was holding a gun to my own head. Once fired, the bullet cannot be taken back.
Why did I find myself in that situation?
The educational model in India heavily focuses on learning by studying.
This leads to a number of paradoxes:
* High performers not getting jobs because they are not employable
* Long periods of struggle and stress for those who have secured jobs
As the person responsible for designing innovative legal courses, I was a huge fan of insightful learning. Then I realised that I am fantasizing more about the insights than the learners, who may not be able to retain them.
That is because the problem I'm solving while delivering the insight is in my head which I am solving wonderfully with my insight - it's not in front of the learner. The learner is listening in Netflix mode.
In so many of our executive certificate courses (https://lawsikho.com/courses) and diplomas (https://lawsikho.com/courses/diploma) where we conduct classrooms, we see that not everything that is taught by a teacher is actually learned by the student until they perform the exercise that is given. This has been a very powerful revelation for us.
Even where only insight is grasped, but no exercise is done and we cannot check the output, the use of such learning is often suspect because we do not know whether the student will utilise this learning and bring it to the forefront when the situation demands it.
Industry projects and internships just don't provide the exposure expected of them. Let me tell you why.
In an internship, you're just another college kid (from the organization's perspective) when you intern and available for too short a period of time for the firm to invest time in training you.
Very few law firms in India have a process to have adults from different industries to understand the legal and transactional process.
Industry projects is a fancy word but they don't exist in the legal industry. Client data is confidential and the duration of deals and disputes is uncertain. Signing an NDA alone doesn't take care of things adequately. A law firm would rather be paid at client rates if they are to provide you with industry exposure through such projects.
What does it take then to really learn how to perform a task from a “doing” perspective?
To be able to effectively perform a task you need to have a sense of the following:
1. Basic knowledge framework
2. Clarity on what to do
3. The ability to take a decision
4. Execution of the task
Most courses will teach you step 1 only, and step 2 to some extent, if a really senior person with a lot of experience is teaching, and if you ask him the right questions.
We realised that this is not sufficient for the legal training needs of India.
In other words, reading superb quality study materials does not ensure absorption and assimilation of insights. It does not give your neurons the capability to apply these insights in a situation, or even the confidence that you know something rare and valuable.
It is not just about the assertion that the education system does not teach practical skills.
It is not merely a syllabus issue, but far worse. It is a systemic design issue.
Learning by studying itself does not have any connection with your willingness and ability to consistently perform tasks and grow. Your assignments and projects are only an outlet where you experience being ‘judged’ by your teachers, or where you resort to different kinds of means to defend your hypothesis from the attack of a more knowledgeable teacher. However, a constructive feedback system which enables you to improve your skills and practice through simulations of real life situations is absent.
Therefore, every model of learning which does not incorporate any learning by doing will face this shortcoming.
I can't trust something 100% if I have not done it before. It's very simple - teach me to balance, but I won't bet Rs. 10 on my being able to ride a bicycle post that.
Noticeably, pilot training programs are different. You can experience flying in simulated environments on the ground. There is reason for it - any mistakes will lead to catastrophic consequences.
What if we brought that method to the teaching of law?
Do you still trust your ability to perform real legal work just by studying?
You might say yes, but I bet you won't. I have evidence for it.
People finish their work in law firms but go over it again and again just to ensure everything is just fine. They'll not hit the send button on that email. To compensate for the lack of assurance, they may resort to minor changes in form rather than deal with the substance of it.
This happens all the time. I'm no exception, and you probably aren't either.
This applies not just to drafting contracts (https://lawsikho.com/course/diploma-advanced-contract-drafting-negotiation-dispute-resolution) , but drafting arbitration applications (https://lawsikho.com/course/certificate-arbitration-adr-dispute-resolution-drafting) , applications under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (https://lawsikho.com/course/insolvency-bankruptcy-code-ibc-nclt-sarfaesi) , drafting various documents under criminal law (https://lawsikho.com/course/certificate-criminal-litigation-trial-advocacy) , disciplinary notices for employees, responding to show cause notices (https://lawsikho.com/course/diploma-industrial-labour-laws) , etc. All of these require strategic and drafting skills, not just bare knowledge.
The choice you've got to make is - how do you want to learn? What is your willingness to address a risk sitting in your future today? Do you want to leave it for the future or address now?
When I took a contract drafting session (https://lawsikho.com/course/diploma-advanced-contract-drafting-negotiation-dispute-resolution) recently for a new batch, I had to ensure that people break free of the inertia when they start drafting contracts. Their writing had to be freed up, doesn't matter if they made mistakes. This had to be done in 60 minutes because in all subsequent sessions I'd move on and have them draft different kinds of contracts.
Guess what I found? It made no difference whether people had studied a lot of contract drafting courses or not - until they really started writing.
How did they start writing?
They started writing in the chat box - I gave them live feedback. In one session of 60 minutes.
Just then, they noticed what was missing.
It's not that they didn't know how to draft. It's just that they did not start drafting because they did not know about the implications of the clause they would draft with the rest of the deal.
Once they started drafting they saw it - what you need to understand was commercials of different kinds of deals and practice with drafting real clauses in each of them.
Phew! They were in the adventure.
You might want to ask me what happened next.
The course (https://lawsikho.com/course/diploma-advanced-contract-drafting-negotiation-dispute-resolution) is going on. They've just completed drafting key clauses of a syndicate loan agreement, a mortgage deed, a share pledge agreement, and are now working on a non disposal undertaking and a corporate guarantee. The chat logs in every session are really long, indicating the voluminous levels of learning and on the spot thinking they undergo.
The show is going on.
In Gullyboy, Ranveer Singh said, “Apna Time Aayega”. His tone was clear. This was not a one-day, some day tone. He was in a state of intense despair, but he was clear that the responsibility was on him to make it happen. He was taking the game head on.
When will you declare that your time has come?
Do you want to watch the movie of innovations in law passively?
Or would you rather create a vision for yourself and move forward towards it in the real world?
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