Amotivating learning environment conducive to deep learning also requires classes to shift the focus from teacher teaching to student performance. Students need to perform the activities of their discipline in a frequent and continual fashion, and teachers need to accompany and promote students in their performances (Tagg, 2003). In most law schools and universities, the lunelight is on the teacher and not the students. If traditional higher education were a theater play, the teacher would be the playwright, the director, and the lead cast all at the same time. Students would be supporting actors. In some cases, they would only be mere spectators.

Beautiful Music (Trank, 2005) recounts the story of Devorah Schr amm, a dedicated and passionate music teacher in Israel, and Rasha Hamid, one of her most accomplished students. Rasha is a blind and fragile girl in the autism spectrum, who was abandoned by her biological parents and suffered the cruelty of the Middle East conflict first-handedly. When she first came to study with Devorah, Rasha was quiet, introspective, and distrustful of most people. After years of studying with Devorah, Rasha grew to love music. She developed pianistic skills and a wonderful sense of playing music that are rarely seen in even the most prestigious professional musicians. Rasha now shines in concerts in front of large audiences—something unimaginable for someone in the autism spectrum. Rasha also became a very talented music composer. Her musical compositions are colorful, romantic, and harmonious. Above all, she learned to communicate with the outside world by sharing her passion for music. Devorah explains her teaching approach, which consists of helping Rasha immerse in authentic activities in the field of music, as follows:

[Rasha played the piano for hours every day.] I just jumped in there and participated in her world. And when I could add something from my professional experience—something to help her in her world, I would jump in and do it. Meanwhile, I was assessing her all the time.

I was constantly assessing and seeing what I could do.

Most law school and criminal justice classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels focus, at best, on few selected aspects of the legal and criminal justice professions, respectively, and, at worse, on none. Law schools in North America tend to focus on only some aspects of the work of appellate lawyers. The works of trial lawyers occupy a marginal role, often relegated to clinical courses and moot court competitions. But the work of a lawyer exceeds these activities. Lawyers interview clients, give advice, write contracts, produce legal opinions, participate in arbitration, mediate, make presentations to partners and to corporate clients, negotiate fees, converse with other lawyers, seek advice, hire associates, evaluate associates, manage a firm, buy legal software, talk to the press, and attend conferences, among many other activities. Law schools ignore most of these activities. Similarly, criminal justice programs tend to focus on the explanation of topics through lecture and textbooks (undergraduate level) and the discussion of journal articles (graduate level). The criminal justice professional seldom, if ever, does this. The professional supervises parolees, conducts risk factor assessments, arrests suspects, interrogates witnesses, investigates crimes, converses with other criminal justice professionals, assists crime victims, attends conferences, talks to the press, and reformulates policy, among many other issues. None of these activities have room in the traditional university classroom.

If students can engage in most or all of these activities, either in authentic settings or in recreated activities in the classroom, including those activities that are not traditionally considered strictly academic, such as talking to the press or hiring associates, they will be more motivated to engage in the deep-learning process (Perkins, 2009). Students are more motivated when they can experience the whole picmre of the discipline and not just an artificially selected fraction.


Teachers’ expectations about theft students’ potential to do well in their classes and in fixture academic and professional endeavors greatly influence students’ motivation both positively and negatively. If teachers genuinely expect great things from their students, students will feel motivated to work hard and learn deeply (Bain, 2012).

In a vexy well-known research experiment, two researchers—a psychology professor at Harvard University and a grade school principal—approached several elementary teachers and told them that their students had taken a rigorous and difficult standardized test. They also told them that some students had done very well and that they had a lot of potential for intellectual performance. The test did not exist, so no student had taken it. The researchers had randomly selected the names of the students that were identified as the highest achievers in the—nonexistent—test (Rosenthal and Jacobson, 1965). Rosenthal and Jacobson followed these students’ performances. All these students did very well. They had the highest marks in the courses. Teachers’ expectations acted like self-fiilfilling prophecies. The teachers had very high expectations of these students, which motivated them to perform well. This experiment was replicated hundreds of times (Rosenthal and Rabin, 1978). The results consistently show that the effects of teachers’ expectations have an impact on students for a long time, even years after they finish the course (Smith, Jussim, and Eccles, 1999).

Devorah Schramm has great expectations of all students. She has many students who, like Rasha, have what others refer to as—learning and physical—disabilities. She sincerely expects the best from every student and acts accordingly, offering every single student the best possible environment to develop their potential.

As a teacher, when I look at a student I look at their potential. I look at them as a human being with a potential to develop. So, when I have a student that has what they call a disability, I look at them a bit different and say ‘OK, I'll work with you as you are, and I am not just going to put you on the forum and make you as society wants you to be. You are all right as you are; and I want to take you as you are and give you some happiness and share with you what I love. And I am not going to pity you. I’m going to give to you.’ (Beautiful Music, 2005)

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