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 7: Learning law differently: the importance of theory and methodology

Bal Sokhi-Bulley

Extract

I like the word [curiosity] … . It evokes “care”; it evokes the care one takes of what exists and what might exist; a sharpened sense of reality, but one that is never immobilised before it; a readiness to find what surrounds us strange and odd; a certain determination to throw off familiar ways of thought and to look at the same things in a different way; a passion for seizing what is happening now and what is disappearing; a lack of respect for the traditional hierarchies of what is important and fundamental. I recently gave a paper where, explaining that I was adopting a ‘Foucauldian perspective’, I mentioned rather flippantly that my methodology was ‘governmentality’. I took for granted that my audience would know what I meant – govern/mentality is, as it says in the word itself after all, a mentality of government and hence a way of thinking about the processes of governing. I have always understood this process of thinking as a methodology. However, I was challenged on this and pushed to explain my viewpoint. Surely governmentality is not a methodology but a ‘theory’? I do not agree but it made me think more deeply about what a methodology is, how if at all it differs from theory and also how – given I was in a room full of non-lawyers – it is relevant to the study of law.

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