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Law Office of Ronald David Greenberg

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Humor in education and other contexts:    
 
 
Education: 
 
Harvard B School tax class, 1981:   The following are photos of some of the discussion in class of the Whipple case(United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit. 301 F.2d 108), a case having its origins in Texas. Course materials (excerpts) distributed in class follow below. See "curriculum vitae" at "SELECTED HONORS: Generally" and at "TEACHING POSITIONS/ACTIVITIES"on Navigation Bar.

 

       Texas flag* is unfolded partially:


tax.class.hbs.1981.1

 


 

 

       Texas flag is unfolded fully:

 

tax.class.hbs.1981.2

 

 

 

       Socratic discussion** continues:

 

tax.class.hbs.1981.3

Photo credits, top, middle, and bottom photos (on behalf of student photographer in class): © 1981 Ronald David Greenberg. All rights reserved.

 
 

 

       Course materials (title page; outline of parts I, II, and III:

 


harvard.b.sch.course.outline.1

harvard.b.sch.course.outline.2.3.4



Copyright © 1981-2012 Ronald David Greenberg and Harvard University, Graduate School of Business Administration, George F. Baker Foundation


Other contexts:

 
Sports:  In sports, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, e.g., has explored this technique. See, e.g., Coach Mike Krzyzewski treating his Duke players to a show in the theatre room of his home where Coach K came out swinging with boxing gloves on, a towel draped around his neck, throwing punches in the air, looking like a fighter--to lift the spirits of the team during a rare rough season.USA Weekend at page 7 (March 11-13, 2011) [as recalled by former Duke captain Jon Scheyer).
 
Military:  In the military, General Martin Dempsey, e.g., appointed to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, is a General who has gravitas in spades (e.g., respected and combat tested), apparently has used humor to make a presentation more effective -- he has sung, e.g., the Sinatra hit "New York, New York" in public. See, e.g., http://weblogs.dailypress.com/news/local/military/blog/2011/05/post_6.html("Some say Dempsey's down-to-earth nature will serve him well in his new job."). For more information on General Dempsey, also available athttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/checkpoint-washington/post/gen-martin-dempsey-knows-how-to-sing-a-tune/2011/12/09/gIQA8X9HiO_blog.html.


___________

* The effectiveness of these maneuvers in class is perhaps questionable. But  click here,, e.g., on professors that attempt to lighten a class with humor on occasion. The students seem to like humor that brings out something in the case to make it more interesting than usual--especially, e.g., in courses like federal income taxation or business law.
** Typically class was conducted under the Socratic (question and answer) method. On occasion, I would revert to a lecture mode for a few minutes. Since tax law can get complicated, I would try to lighten the curriculum with some humor (usually not as elaborate as that portrayed in the photographs above). For example, I might say: "A, B, C, D, E." The student might respond with: "No. It is A, B, C, D, E." I would look at the student quizzically and, after a pensive pause, say: "What are you -- family?" Apparently, most students had experienced similar family exchanges at, e.g., the dinner table where the diners agree but one might respond with "No" even though in agreement. The students laughed. Copyright © Ronald David Greenberg 1970-2012. All rights reserved.