Theoretical Positions, Teaching Experiments and Learning Experiences
Edited by Bart van Klink and Ubaldus de Vries
Chapter 9: Visuals for a critical legal profession
Not only the law itself is ‘dead material’ that needs to be brought to life, the same goes for texts that describe, explain or critique the law. I do not mean to downplay the creative-writing capabilities of many legal scholars, but I think more than text is necessary to infuse students with a critical outlook on legal phenomena. In today’s visual culture, law is often seen in Hollywood movies and series such as CSI. Law students – just like many others – are permanently ‘online’, using Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other visual social media to connect, exchange information and make public their current social status. When they enter the classroom however, they often have to go back to the ‘old days’ (of the teacher) of reading large amounts of text and a few lecture slides (also with text) to support that process. Including visuals (e.g. photos, documentaries, etc.) brings teaching more inline with the ordinary way students process and produce information. However, a second and more important argument is that ‘bringing the visual in’ in teaching law, will help students develop a more imaginative critical perspective on law. Photos and film confront students with real-life situations, which together with a case or social issue, and the story behind it enables them to put themselves in the shoes of the people concerned. There is a third reason for why using visuals are good.
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