Teaching Ancient Law

Hello everyone! My name is Tyler Viljaste, and I am a Junior pursuing a dual degree and Bachelor of Philosophy in Politics&Philosophy and Finance. This semester, I am working with my fellowship mentor Bernard Hibbitts on a special teaching project through the Chancellors Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship for his honors law class entitled “How Law Began”. This project, centered on the honors class on ancient law, is an excellent opportunity to use the expertise and knowledge that I have gained as a result of taking the class before and apply it to a teaching capacity, helping a new class of students navigate the course and materials. This fellowship will allow me to serve a few critical roles which will benefit not only myself and give me unparalleled teaching experience, but also ensure that other students are getting as meaningful of an experience as possible from taking the course.

            As the class is heavily structured around classroom discussion, a critical role that I will serve is as a facilitator of discussion. Having taken the course, I am familiar with the expanse of materials and primary source documents and will be offering a guiding hand in class discussion with the goal of empowering the voices of the students and helping clarify their ideas. In addition, I will be serving an evaluative role in reviewing student paper submissions, giving myself an opportunity to learn how to critically evaluate student submissions and to give feedback to students that will help them grow as writers. I will also be providing advice on curricular planning – since the course is so new to the honors college, there are ample opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of the current curriculum and offer suggestions on how to make it even better. Finally, as a part of the fellowship I will teach a lecture on my own, which will allow me to grow as a presenter and demonstrate mastery on a specific ancient legal culture.

            My primary goal as a part of this fellowship is to give the next class of students the best possible experience in the course. As I have taken the course before, as well as another class with the professor, I hope to be able to offer my knowledge and expertise on the subject material so students feel more comfortable in the class and its structure. As the class is also an excellent opportunity for students to grow as writers, I want to help students learn how to compose effective papers, both for this class and for classes going forward. In addition to this, other goals associated with this project will be gaining new perspectives on courses as a whole and curriculum development. Serving the role of teacher as opposed to student will allow me to see what teaching is like and give me the chance to grow in my presentation capacities, while also giving me experience in critically evaluating peer submissions. This is all excellent preparation for my future endeavors, whether it be law school or graduate school.

Tyler Viljaste (above) is a Junior pursuing a dual degree and Bachelor of Philosophy in Politics&Philosophy and Finance

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