Academic Learning in Law
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Academic Learning in Law

Theoretical Positions, Teaching Experiments and Learning Experiences

Edited by Bart van Klink and Ubaldus de Vries

This timely book calls for a critical re-evaluation of university legal education, with the particular aim of strengthening its academic nature. It emphasizes lecturers’ responsibility to challenge the assumptions students have about law, and the importance of putting law in a theoretical and social context that allows for critical reflection and sceptical detachment. In addition, the book reports upon teaching experiences and innovations, offering tools for teachers to strengthen the academic nature of legal education.
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Chapter 3: Re-Bildung: an ideal reconsidered for legal education

Lyana Francot and Luigi Corrias


Over the last decades there has been an ongoing debate on the changing nature and functions of academic education. Central to the debate is the clear and present tendency to let the market dictate both the nature and the functions of academic education. This results in an increasing emphasis on teaching students practical legal skills with evident economic value. This development concurs with an erosion of the appreciation of general knowledge and of an attitude, both critical and academic. This lack of appreciation results in steadily decreasing time, space and funding for the transfer of fundamental knowledge and of an academic attitude. While Academia seems to be united in its disapproval of this tendency, it has yet to find a way to effectively counter the hegemony of economic rationality. Hence, Academia needs to rebuild its core. One way to voice the academic discontent is to reconsider the ideal of Bildung against the backdrop of the contemporary situation of Academia. We argue that contemporary developments, such as the ongoing economization (reducing everything to its economic value) and instrumentalization (reducing everything to a means for attaining a certain end) of both society and education, necessitate a reinterpretation of the traditional concept of Bildung. In the history of education, Bildung reflects in its own and unrivalled way: the non-economic value of education.

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