The term "gunner" appears to be a ubiquitous one in law schools around the US. What it means: someone who tries with all their might to participate, to study hard, all in order to get the best grade possible.
Some would misguidedly call me by that name. The beginning of this semester reminds me of last semester - as long as I was interested in a class, I participated. Maybe to the point of being seen by some as a gunner. I always raised my hand. I always answered questions (for the record - quite often wrongly, but that's part of the fun). So far, I'm still doing the same thing given the opportunity.
Yet those who know me would be hard-pressed to identify me as a gunner. I'm the girl who walzed into the library during finals in April of last year, attired in shorts and a tanktop, carrying a purse rather than a backpack, and expressed to a friend there that I'd just gotten back from doing a little shopping, having lunch and tanning. To those who know me, that too would seem odd.
There are lots of reasons why no one would mark me as a gunner. First and foremost, I have NEVER, in my entire academic life, cared about grades. If I'm interested - I care about learning. How I do on exams is not a reflection of my knowledge of the subject, but rather of how well I take tests. As long as they're standardized - great. Otherwise - not so hot. Secondly, I'm a bit of a hedonist - life is enjoyable, and no potential grade could convince me to give up the time I spend enjoying life, whether it be cooking, reading a non-law school book, or just simply having a good time.
So why does answering questions in class make people think I'm a gunner? Isn't it a mark of ignorance, or curiosity to talk too much? Isn't true wisdom epitomized by silence? Doing the readings does not make me a gunner. Neither does having no shame in giving a wrong answer.
People shouldn't be afraid to participate in class. Exams here are graded blind - being an idiot in front of a few dozen people isn't going to hurt you. Furthermore, in order to succeed in the real world, you have to voice your opinion - even if sometimes that means speaking up as a junior in front of much more senior staff members. School is good practice - what you say impacts your future much less.
In short - it's laughable that some would think of me as a gunner. I just wish more people would speak up and realize that you don't have to study 22 hours out of the day in order to participate in class.