Constitutional Crisis: Week 1

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James Hanley

James Hanley is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    At this point, what in your mind would be the defining characteristics of an “A” student, a “B” student, and a “C” student?

    I’m willing to bet that one of the defining characteristics of the “A” student will be actions that evidence an attitude congruent with the sentiment of “to hell with the grade, I want to win.”Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:

      As we like to say when we’re stalling for time, good question. Hmmm. I want to see them actively involved in the discussion, in trying to influence what ideas are enplaced in the document and the final shape of the language. That they are prepared, when they are doing so, instead of just spouting things off the cuff. And that their ideas/proposals indicate they are taking the project seriously. I’ve also indicated that their grade depends on pursuing their state’s goals, as I’ve specified them in their state brief. Outside those limited specifications they can pursue their own preferences, and their first assignment, for next Tuesday, is a 1-2 page single-spaced writeup of the goals–both state and personal–they want to pursue as a delegate.

      Honestly, I’d give high marks to someone who demonstrated a commitment to, and ability at, being a compromise maker; who kept things moving by getting conflicting sides to agree to something where each has to give a bit.

      But for some, no doubt active and serious participation will overlap with desire to win. I’ve made it clear that discussions and negotiations are not limited to in-class time, because I couldn’t police such a rule anyway, and I already know some–like the two guys who are best buds (one of whom is, by the way, an Interior Design student, and whom I encouraged to take the class because I’ve had him in a previous class) are planning to try to form a cabal–if the states I’ve given them make that workable. And I imagine those that want to win will use that out-of-class time to suggest proposals, make allies, and come in ready to either bulldoze or sweettalk the opposition, as seems most strategic to them.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Oh, I didn’t fully answer.

        A B student would be one who took it seriously, was involved, and contributed decently, but not as extensively or intelligently as the A student.

        A C student is there regularly, more quiet, less actively involved and so less influential, but not detracting from the process even if they’re not really contributing a lot to it.

        People who are disruptive, unserious, or miss a lot will miss that cut-off.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley says:

        By the measure of an “A” student being the ones to make compromise as you put it, large portions of the original Constitutional Convention would’ve not passed your class.

        I mean, if the person who wrote the most consistent and best “plan” was also the most strident student, either on the left, right, or maybe even another weird political typology based on the scenario, could they still get an A if they refused to compromise and actually say, manuevered around the ‘moderates’ to get something more to their liking passed?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        I didn’t say they had to compromise to get an A. I said they could get an A even if they were a compromise-producer, rather than seeking to win.Report

      • It strikes me that a win-at-all-costs when providing the template for future government is a short-sighted proposition. Ultimately, you want something people are going to be satisfied with. Otherwise, you’re setting up significant problems later on.

        A lot of this depends. It’s one thing to say “Rhode Island will give in eventually” and another to say “Our five states have more people and/or wealth than their nine states, so screw them.”Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to James Hanley says:

        “By the measure of an “A” student being the ones to make compromise as you put it, large portions of the original Constitutional Convention would’ve not passed your class. ”

        Well, he’s already said that the original Constitutional Convention screwed up a lot of things. Hanley is not saying “what you should be going for is the original American Constitution and you should follow the same process its framers did”.Report

    • I’m willing to bet that one of the defining characteristics of the “A” student will be actions that evidence an attitude congruent with the sentiment of “to hell with the grade, I want to win.”

      So, I’m sitting here thinking (a) this sure looks like a prediction, and (b) how the hell will I ever manage to decide if it’s correct? Maybe another glass of wine will clarify things…Report

  2. Avatar Citizen says:

    Will most of the introverts be given a C?Report

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  4. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    “organized youth sports with formal rules put in place by adults have replaced sandlot baseball where the kids negotiated their own rules (the lilac bush in old man Hanley’s yard is the left field foul line, etc.). ”

    On the one hand, that’s not “no rules”, that’s just adapting the basic rules to fit the situation. There still is a foul line (and a left field), they just aren’t part of a formal layout. (And if there were a baseball field available to play on then the kids wouldn’t have had to make up their own.)

    On the other hand, that’s kind of what you’re doing by having them read the “Guide to Constitution-Building”.Report