Experiential Learning: Mock Trial

Last week was such fun: a beautiful fall weekend in New England, tours of 4 college campuses (2 of which, WPI and MIT, were personal tours from former homeschoolers who are current students), and a Harvard mock trial intensive with some of my team members. You can see some photos and read a little about the colleges on my Rapaport Consulting Facebook page. But here, I want to focus on Mock Trial.

Mock Trial Seminar at Harvard
For over 3 decades, the NJ State Bar Foundation, in cooperation with the NJ State and County Bar Associations, has sponsored the Vincent J. Apruzzese Mock Trial Competition for high school students. Mock Trial is the epitome of learning by doing. For example, mock trialers learn critical reading skills by reading and analyzing case materials. They learn persuasive writing and rhetoric by drafting and editing opening statements, closing arguments, direct examination questions and answers, and cross-examination questions. They learn about human behavior by searching for the motivations behind plaintiffs’ and defendants’ actions. They learn public speaking by rehearsing and delivering openings, closings, directs, and cross-examinations in front of a judge in a real courtroom. They learn about our judicial system by preparing for and participating in a trial. All this experiential learning can be translated into high school credits such as English (writing, public speaking) and Civics.
Some people mistakenly believe that mock trial is only for teens who aspire to law careers, but having coached for almost a decade, I can tell you that our team members have gone on to college to study diverse fields including: accounting, biochemical engineering, computer science, economics, government, music composition, music education, political science, psychology, and vocal performance. A couple of these students do intend to pursue law careers, but most of them have chosen other career paths.
If you’re the homeschooling parent of a tween, I encourage you to introduce your child to Mock Trial by observing one of this year’s competitions.