Theoretical Positions, Teaching Experiments and Learning Experiences
Edited by Bart van Klink and Ubaldus de Vries
Chapter 6: Teaching international law critically – critical pedagogy and Bildung as orientations for learning and teaching
International law is largely taught in a way which aims to inculcate a language of expertise employed in international legal organizations. Such training is causing the reproduction of a cultural hegemony in the classroom, in the law school, and society at large. In the following, I investigate whether there is a possibility (and an obligation) for teachers of international law to disrupt this reproduction, to be counter-hegemonic in their teaching. In particular, I am interested in the relationship between critical theory in teaching and the demands of teaching law as a profession. Teachers of (international) law often feel that theory is something that needs to be ‘slipped into’ a more practice-oriented syllabus. They feel market pressures demand a doctrinal mode of teaching rather than one which looks at law in context. Market pressures may be exerted by student numbers signing up to courses, by the way in which courses are marketed to prospective students, and by the students’ potential employers. These market pressures may lead to a feeling of compulsion to teach ‘doctrine’ as opposed to, or instead of, ‘theory’. The defining features of the former would be that it concerns a rather technical debate about what the law is or should be in a given situation; the latter concerns questions of contextualization, asking, for example, whether lawmaking processes are biased, for example, in favour of a particular class, race, or gender.
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