Thursday, February 11, 2016

CWRU School of Law, 10:56am

Juliet Kostritsky comes alive in the classroom. 

No wonder students at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law voted her Favorite Professor six different times and bestowed upon her the Teacher of the Year Award in 2015. And the admiration is mutual. 

"They inspire me with their passion," Kostritsky says of her students. "They are amazing both by their desire to learn something new and by their kindness to others."

Perhaps what makes Kostritsky's teaching style so dynamic is her willingness to be surprised, even after 32 years in the classroom. Because law is about so much more than learning rules, she says. "How can we know what rule is best until we know how people will respond to those rules?" she asks. "In deciding what the law is, you have to have an understanding of human behavior. It is that fundamental."   

Who: Juliet Kostritsky 
What: First-year course on contract law
Where: Case Western Reserve University School of Law
What makes a teacher "good?": "This question is a provocative one. There is no one way to be a good teacher but the best ones I've had [when I was a student] had a passion for the subject. I remember a poetry teacher who was a quiet speaker but his passion for Yeats, Synge and James Joyce was so palpable. 

The best teachers care deeply about the students and want them to learn the subject but also be inspired by it. The best teachers do not lecture. They welcome and carry on an interactive dialogue with their students. I love it when students come up with answers that I have not even thought about. That is wonderful and it makes me smile." 

This is Cleveland.