Several weeks ago I mentioned I was going into CON 090: Federal Acquisition Regulation Fundamentals at DAU. I just completed my first day. Here are my first impressions:
- It will be a long, arduous course. (One person with 20+ years experience barely passed it last year).
- The instructors take the mission of the course very seriously.
- There is a strong emphasis on citing the exact FAR reference. This is both good and painful.
- You need to be equally serious to do well.
- Your team is the only thing that will get you through this course.
I’ll write a weekly review and try to publish it every Monday for the next four weeks.
I remember an American history course I took many years ago — I struggled through and barely managed to get a “B”. My biggest problem was that I kept messing up all of the specific dates of various events. Imagine my surprise when the professor, who was the head of the History Department, set up a meeting with me and tried to convince me to switch my major to History. He told me that knowing the specific dates was nowhere near as important as understanding the meaning and interconnectivity of all the various events… and he thought I understood that better than anyone in the class.
A couple years later, I had a law professor tell me basically the same thing. He said that if you’re going to try bankruptcy cases in court, then you probably need to specialize and be able to cite specific provisions by heart. Otherwise, your time is best spent learning to understand what laws mean and how they work together. You can look up specific citations when it comes time to write a brief.
I can understand needing to know what’s in the FAR and generally where to find specific information. However, unless you’re not using a computer program to populate contract clauses, I see no specific virtue in memorizing exact citations (unless you’re trying out for the FAR Quiz Bowl team). I am constantly trying to improve my understanding of the FAR, and I had considered taking CON 090… but rote memorization is not what I’m looking for. Thanks for the warning — whether you meant it that way or not. I’ll be watching for your further posts on the topic.