On 22 May 2014 I gave a paper at the University of Northampton annual Teaching & Learning conference. The opportunity gave me a chance to reflect on why learning of law is generally perceived by students as dry, boring and tedious: a subject to be tolerated in the interests of future gains.
In the paper I tried to argue that critical approaches to teaching law can transform the experience of learning law making the possibilities of freedom, equality and justice a reality. The argument was that most law students perceive learning law as “hard and boring” but necessary as an instrument to a singular outcome – a well-paid career in law!
That is all fine, but the unintended consequence of this approach to law studies is that learning of law becomes commodified, measured by reference to the size of the ultimate financial return, and by reference to the coefficient  of delivery of teaching of law. Thus, teaching of law risks being reduced to the realisation of an economic equation. I contend that such a transactional relationship is not an interesting or intellectually useful experience for the student or the teacher of law. Continue reading
On 7 May 2014 The Northampton Chronicle & Echo reported that: “The University of Northampton has unveiled plans to dispense with the traditional three-month student summer holiday and move towards a “52-week, 24 hour” campus arrangement.”
The newspaper reports a rather fascinating but potentially disruptive and revolutionary notion . If on the one hand the report of the alleged proposal is factually accurate, in Kuhnian terms the proposal would amount to as yet undiscovered ‘paradigm to shift’ and one unsustainable by any credible evidence, quite consistent with Kuhnian theory.
If, on the other hand, the Northampton Chronicle is reporting an ideological (im)position seeking to articulate an expression of bare power, that is quite a different matter. As we know, statements of belief, especially those ‘religiously’ held as matters of fundamentalist principle, are not by definition capable of rational critique or analysis. Such statements owe their existence and justification to the potentiality and the politico-juridical actuality of pure violence. Continue reading
I am currently being ‘trained’ as a PhD supervisor, and this article is a short reflection based on some work on the course. But to start with a caveat: my intellectual background lies in the humanities and law, and in this context my comments are necessarily limited to the humanities and legal research.
The course is interesting, and it made me question to what extent it is possible for universities to introduce formalised accredited systems for generating research outputs and research training. Are formalistic systems institutional responses to the instrumentalisation of intellectual endeavour and research? It made me wonder whether what is assumed to be ‘effective’ research degree supervision aiming to help research students plan, undertake, complete and disseminate their PhD research can in fact contribute creatively to the body of human knowledge and promote original findings. Continue reading