We sat in on a class at Columbia Law School in Manhattan recently that covered workers’ rights and governmental issues. The vocabulary was highly advanced, especially for us, although the concepts were very interesting after the clarifications. The professor made a few jokes, which we thought was a great way to get the students focused. He used the Socratic method, which was named after Socrates. He would call on the same five students and expect them to be prepared to answer questions and state their opinions on the given assignment. At the end of every class he would pick five new students for the next session.
After the class, we met and interviewed Mark Barenberg, the professor, in a separate conference room.
Did any of your past professors push you both academically and professionally?
Yes, my college and law school professors pushed me especially hard. I thought of them as mentors.
Since constitutional law covers all of the fundamentals, do you feel that it is the hardest or easiest to learn and teach?
I feel that it is the easiest for me to teach because I enjoy constitutional law, although I feel that it is the hardest to learn because it is similar to learning a new language. Social scientists refer to it as culture shock.
Did you compete in debate during high school?
No, but I have always fought for human rights, especially women’s rights.
After the interview, Nancy L. Goldfarb from public relations set up a tour of the library. We met the librarian, Dana Neacsu. She showed us around “the mysterious cellar” and talked to us about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice. The cellar was organized by country, and Mrs. Neacsu amazingly knew her way around the whole room. She could speak fluent French and read us a law book from France. We learned there are an estimated 300,000 books in this library.
This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for us sixth-graders. We felt like actual college students the whole time.