Dr. Daniel N. Clay
Legal Scholar, Educator, and Advisor
As an educator and legal scholar, I am guided by a simple philosophy:
I, like my students, am merely a traveler through life, seeking knowledge for the betterment of the individual and society. As such, I consider the classroom to be an ongoing conversation between the intellectually curious designed to elicit truth within the discipline and challenge the prejudices and morals of my fellow travelers. To this end, I try to create an encouraging and positive environment, through the purest form of the Socratic Method, to develop critical thinking skills in students and enable them to approach subjects as intellectuals.
Beginning on day one, I set extremely high standards and communicate the duty imposed upon students to take responsibility for learning the materials, not just reciting statutory or case law on examinations. My burden is to provide students with the tools, but it is upon the student to use these tools in deriving an intimate understanding of the subject matter. To this end, I regularly check students’ understanding through Socratic cold-calling and hypotheticals that push students to “think deeply." I expect professionalism in the classroom and nothing less. I do not tolerate the answers: “I have not prepared” or “I do not know,” as they are excuses to be lazy in a profession that requires the utmost preparation and competence.
While maintaining my standards and expectations, each course meeting, I bring my utmost excitement and charisma for the subject matter with the hope that students will become equally invested in its importance and application; thus, heightening the level of discourse during each consecutive course meetings. My charisma permits students to see me as approachable when they are in need of one-on-one or small group guidance. I welcome these dialogues, but warn students in advance that I am not to be used a "hornbook," but rather, as a guide, helping them to again “think deeply” in answering their own questions.
While my teaching philosophy has garnered success in the classroom, I am not blind to the pressures imposed upon students, professors, and educational institutions to produce competent, well-trained, practice-ready professionals. Thus, my courses—including assignments, research papers, and exams—are equal parts: theory; application; and career-training, across a wide variety of online and offline platforms in a culturally sensitive manner. To this end, I will never stop my pursuit of knowledge of the law, criminal justice, and education, and I believe my students are encouraged to do the same, for the ultimate benefit of the student, the institution, the discipline, and the profession as a whole.