The training session conducted at NUJS from the 6th-9th of July, 2010 marked the commencement of the second round of training that would be given to students selected through the aptitude test that IDIA volunteers are conducting in different schools in rural and distant areas. The first such training session of the IDIA project started on the 6th of July, 2010 and completed on the 9th of July. Eight students who were selected by the aptitude test in their school in Pelling had come to NUJS campus for contact classes accompanied by one of their teachers. The training classes for them were also held at the IMS centre in Calcutta.
The centre head of IMS Kolkata Mr Ajay Sharma congratulated the students on being selected in the aptitude test and wished them luck for their CLAT preparation. The training session at IMS was conducted by Mr Rajneesh Singh, the national product manager at IMS. The students were asked about their reasons behind choosing law as a career option. The students did not seem to be very confident about the answer. Some, for obvious reasons, equated study of law with deliverance of justice but there was also a student who candidly replied “Pots and pots of money.”
Rajneesh Singh assured the students all help in the form of online supplements and answering queries speedily via email or social networking sites such as Orkut. IMS had earlier provided these students with all their study materials and he emphasised on the need of studying the materials thoroughly.
Rajneesh helped the students getting acquainted with all the major law schools in the country and their respective entrance tests like CLAT, SET, etc. He also went into the detail of the past year question papers of CLAT. He also gave them a few tips about the strategy on how to attempt the question paper and also to what extent they should give importance to a particular subject.
The faculty who imparted training to these students were a mix of NUJS students and professional trainers. While Rajneesh taught Mathematics, Ramanuj, Rukmini, Jenisha and Shamnad taught English, Legal Aptitude was taught by Bhavin Patel.
Rajneesh started the class with discussing about the methodologies of studying with respect to different subjects. He started off with Mathematics. He realized the students’ apprehensions about the subject itself and assured them repeatedly that it can be the most scoring section among all the other sections if attempted with a definite strategy. The basic concepts of mensuration, arithmetic and algebra were revised. It was repeatedly emphasized that stress should be given on answering the questions correctly rather than getting a substantial portion of the questions wrong. He also discussed about the patterns of problems that could be asked and also the subsections that require more importance. Initially students’ response was slow but they gradually picked up the pace.
The lesson mostly involved discussion of the short cut methods that will help in saving time during the entrance test. As short cut methods were shown, responses started improving. Once the concepts were explained and revised, the students were given questions to solve. The main focus was on formulas, short-cuts and striking out options. He later taught them topics like time and work, time distance and speed, average. The students were asked to follow the Basic Reference Material from IMS while practicing.
The first topic to be taken up in English was Reading Comprehension. It was realized during the lesson that the students are considerably weak in vocabulary. The exercise was started by some high frequency words which they were unable to answer satisfactorily. On noting this weakness, it was suggested that they read one newspaper extensively as that will serve both the purpose of English and General Knowledge.
The students were also given an op-ed article to read and understand the arguments that the author tried to make in that article. This class was conducted by Ramanuj Mukherjee and Prof. Shamnad Basheer. The objective of the lesson was to teach the effective methods of reading so that it yields maximum output in terms of culling out points that are important and relevant and the ability to chuck out useless information. The task of the students was to locate important points from the article and spot the central idea. Needless to say, that, they were not very successful in the first attempt but they gradually grasped the principles. The different elements that are present in a write-up were discussed. The main focus was on the simple questions- What to read, How to read, How to remember, How to use. Seeing that the response coming from the students is moderate, Prof. Basheer encouraged them. The students were advised to practice prioritizing in reading. They were urged to follow the arguments, counter arguments and the concepts. Stress was also given on vocabulary. The students were advised to write the important things down and then organize it well. They were expected to discuss the lessons among themselves as it will help in remembering. Prof. Basheer advised them to do group study.
English Grammar was taken up next by Jenisha Parikh and Rukmini Das and a rigorous training was imparted. Students were finding it difficult to even identify the parts of speeches but they were shy to speak out about their problem. The students were facing difficulty in solving the some very easy questions.
Seeing them struggle with the reading comprehension, another class was taken on the topic. A passage was taken from Times of India. Students were advised to decipher the meaning of an unknown word with respect to its context. Tips were given to them about intelligent reading (read along with contexts, headings and subheadings, identification of the tone). They were asked to prepare questions in mind while they are reading.
The concepts of critical, deductive and analytical reasoning were taken up, discussed and cleared through examples. The students took time to understand the concepts.
Regarding G.K. the students were told that questions on only current affairs will be coming. The students were given tips on extraction of relevant data for the purpose of CLAT from the newspaper.
The legal reasoning class was taken by Mr. Bhavin Patel who himself graduated from NLSIU and was the Chief Legal Aptitude faculty at LST. He started the class by asking the students’ purpose behind attending these sessions. The answers were very candid and ranged variedly from ‘to give justice’ to ‘earn pots of money’! Some were reticent and fumbled while answering. Bhavin plotted all the reasons provided by the student and tried to explain to them the feasibility of the options (reasoning, justice, money, fun). He tried to elicit response from the students asking them to think like laymen and logically arrive to a conclusion. Bhavin emphasized on the point of thinking logically. It is about training their minds to arrive to the conclusion step by step (breaking it down for simplification and also to arrive at the conclusion). They were not required to possess prior knowledge of law. The students took time to grasp the matter but gradually all were involved in the class. He explained them about the concept of justice.
• What is this thing which is loosely termed as justice?
• If the aggrieved party cannot win the suit will it still be called justice?
Bhavin charted the following course justice-court-parliament-constitution. All these were explained by method of simple reasoning and by pushing the arguments. In this method no prior knowledge of law is required. He provided some basic example of problems of legal reasoning (scalpel problem). The students were determining the problem on the basis of what they feel (mostly). While explaining the example he did not write down the options. In this way the students remembered only that answer which they thought was correct at the first go. Then he explained the basic principles in solving a legal reasoning problem. The students became very interested in the class. The problems discussed comprised of negligence, vicarious liability, trespass, contracts. They solved the tough problems at first and then moved on to easier ones. In the first question no one got the right answer but gradually more and more people started getting them right.
Inspiration & Fun
The Vice Chancellor of NUJS, Prof MP Singh visited during the session and vouched for his support behind the entire project. He emphasized on the fact that NUJS is keen on increasing the diversity. Prof Shamnad Basheer also spoke about how Prof Singh came from a small village called Jitholi near the UP border and how from that position he rose up to what he is today.
Other faculty members who came from far flung areas were also introduced to the students so that they could feel that even they have a chance of making it to the premier law schools.
In particular, the experiences of Assistant Professors Shameek Sen and Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan were truly inspiring.
The students were shown ‘Twelve Angry Men’ and were also taken around the city so that they do not miss out on the fun element while visiting Calcutta.
Even while teaching, Rajneesh held a Quiz to retain the students’ interest. The quiz proved to be a fresh respite for the students. Students were very enthusiastic and they responded very well. The quiz consisted of current affairs and static G.K. questions. One special mention has to be made- on being asked who is the prime minister of Japan, the answer came ‘Jackie Chan’! The quiz round consisted of identifying personalities, major events and current affairs.
The students need to put in loads of effort in English and especially grammar. It should be seen that grammar is taught along with some fun. The students need to practice Maths from the study materials provided to them by IMS by using the short cut methods which Rajneesh has taught them. For vocabulary and current GK, the students need to read the newspapers daily. For Logical reasoning, immense practice is required so that students are clearly able to solve problems in deductive reasoning and critical reasoning. Possible help from the faculty will also be required. It has to be seen that the students are able to solve questions in a given time. Most of the students could not complete the paper in a mock exam that was conducted on the third day of the training. For this, proper strategies should be prepared.
Report prepared by Aditi Pal (2nd year, NUJS) and Shambo Nandy (3rd year, NUJS).