“you’re going to be a douchebag in that class, aren’t you” (aka, confessions of a maybe-gunner)

(Completely personal ramble coming; skip it if you’re not interested in the internal monologue of an IP junkie 1L. I’m writing the post mostly to force myself to think through some options (including trying to understand better both my temptations and revulsions), not because I think it will actually be interesting to anyone.)

Sigh. Quote in subject is from a friend/classmate on the way out of Principles of Intellectual Property. The class is going to be a challenge for me; I love to think about (and talk about) the topic; I’m well versed in it, so I’ll likely be ahead of the game, at least early in the semester; and (generally) there are lots of assumptions that irritate me, so I’m often going to want to (1) correct assumptions or (2) throw something, and (2) is definitely not an option. So yeah… in short, I’m likely to be the gunner for this class. (I’m not that bad. But the link gives you the idea.)

The problem is that I don’t want to be the gunner. Sometimes I look back and feel like I’ve been that guy in virtually every classroom I’ve ever been in. I think I mostly avoided it last semester, and I don’t think I’ll be very tempted in most of my other classes this semester, but it is going to come out with a vengeance in this class. Some part of me says ‘it doesn’t matter’, but most of me says ‘I’d rather not be the central square in everyone’s gunner bingo card’.

I’m really not sure what the best strategy is to control the impulse. The extreme version would be to just never volunteer at all in class and just go to office hours and talk there; the less extreme version might be to only volunteer when I see a really bad assumption- as opposed to answering the inevitable ‘will someone volunteer’ questions. I’m afraid that may still be daily, though. Might just try to limit myself to one comment a week- that is every other class, on average; should be small enough not to irritate my classmates, and would force me to focus on the interesting stuff. Gah… oh well. I’ll figure it out. Off to cure this headache and start on Property reading…

[Ed.: the wisest person I know suggests that if I can just stick to ‘Learn, Not Teach’, I’ll be fine… I think I’ll go tattoo that to my forehead or something. It was never my intent to lecture my classmates, just to ask probing questions so I can better understand, but still… it won’t hurt for me to chant that like a mantra.]