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Street Law is one of the strong education-related pro bono projects at Penn Law. 

Street Law accomplishes its goals by developing a curriculum centered around what the ABA has coined Law-Related Education. This entails developing an educational program that includes civil, criminal, administrative and constitutional themes, and providing students practical information about the law, public policy, and concepts underlying a constitutional democracy. To explore these themes the program endeavors to include critical thinking, decision-making, problem solving, communication, cooperation, reasoning, and student participation. Ultimately, the goal is to provide students with practical legal information and practice in skills that will nurture critical thinking and civic participation.

Broadly, the program employs interactive teaching strategies that foster true student-to-student interaction by posing relevant legal issues to students and giving them the opportunity to work through those matters. Issues, materials and lessons are characterized by depth of analysis. These issues in some instances are explored individually or in smaller groupings of students, and in others the entirety of the students in the classroom will participate.  Students are provided appropriate time to answer questions, work through role-play situations, and document their reactions to the various activities. All the while, students draw on existing knowledge and experiences to grapple with and explore these issues.

Course materials will provide a balanced view of the judicial system and other aspects of the political system. Controversial issues are also important as they motivate student interest and broaden understanding and tolerance. As such, classes must foster opportunities to allow young people to safely voice their viewpoints. Constructive, adult debate and a free flow of ideas are crucial to the effective participation of students. Overall it is important that students have ample opportunities to practice skills and gain confidence in defending their points of view, making presentations, etc.

 

[1] In part adapted from Best Practices in LRE, Street Law, Inc. 2012, available at http://www.streetlaw.org/Documents/Document/Document/518/Best_Practices_in_LawRelated_Education