A Novel Tool for Teaching Property
37 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2017 Last revised: 2 Oct 2017
Date Written: 2017
For most Property Law professors teaching Property Law is both a joy and a challenge. We are convinced of the importance of the subject for law practice and society at large, but we face numerous challenges in the classroom. Our pedagogical objectives vary, but most of us want to teach some doctrine, some policy and some theory. Engaging fruitfully in policy and theoretical debates requires some grasp of doctrine, but many of the doctrines are complex and not intuitive. This essay offers Property Law professors a new tool that will help them teach doctrine more efficiently so that they can spend more time on policy and theory and engage the subject more critically. This new tool also advances the goal of contemporary legal education to help students integrate legal analysis and legal practice.
This essay argues that property doctrines and rules are answers to several consistent legal questions, and that these questions provide a useful framework for teaching Property doctrine. Beginning with the questions helps students recognize the connections among doctrines and rules across topics instead of seeing Property as a disconnected group of topics and rules.
The proposed framework offers the questions as reference points for navigating the sea of common law Property doctrines and rules. A student still must navigate the treacherous straits of the Rule Against Perpetuities and similar difficulties. And, more importantly, she must wrestle with the deeper policy, theory and value issues that our system of private property presents. However, using the framework of questions, she can always orient herself efficiently and, then engaging the diverse policy and theoretical perspectives that our Property Law tradition offers, guide herself to an answer (or set of possible answers).
Keywords: property law, legal education, common law, pedagogy, trusts and estates
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation