Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Inside Professor Obama’s Classroom

The Caucus | New York Times Politics Blog | July 29, 2008, 5:05 pm

In the course of reporting an article on the 12 years that Barack Obama spent teaching law at the University of Chicago, we unearthed some of Mr. Obama’s old class materials: the syllabus and assignments for his “Racism and the Law” seminar, as well as a set of his constitutional law exams and a partial set of memos he wrote about the answers.

The documents let us hear his voice as a professor, asking students to wrestle with hot-button topics like cloning and reparations. He tells students what he wants and interrogates them on what they have learned. In his little asides about gym visits and his wife, Michelle, we hear hints of his professorial style.

But the documents also offer clues about his thinking. They show us whose writings he wanted students to explore, from Malcolm X to Robert Bork. He framed complex legal, moral and political issues for his students, and in the case of post-exam memos, answered a few problems for them.

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