Clinical and Doctrinal Approaches to Teaching and Learning

Clinical and doctrinal approaches to teaching and learning have not always been happy companions in the pedagogical life of a law school. Often cast as a-critical or a-contextual skills training better left to articling, clinical learning is seen by some to lack the gravitas of doctrinal approaches. In 2013, I began a series of interviews with clinicians and clinical law students across Ontario that very clearly showed the gap between doctrinal and clinical learning. When asked what knowledge and skill law students brought to the clinic, the most common response from both law students and clinicians was “none”. While this response might point to difficulties with knowledge transfer rather than the actual content of law school courses, these answers were – for me – startling. Clinicians also noted the difficulty in educating students on introductory skills (understanding retainers and interviewing clients, how to detect a conflict of interest, speaking to a motion). Many were eager to delve into critical lawyering and radicalized approaches to teaching and learning, particularly about ethics and professionalism, poverty, and social justice approaches to practice. However, the skills and knowledge barrier made such approaches more challenging.

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Message de la présidente Annie Rochette

Chères et chers collègues,

Il me fait plaisir de vous écrire en tant que nouvelle présidente de l’Association canadienne des professeur(e)s de droit (ACPD) depuis juin 2014. Gemma Smyth, de Windsor, agira à titre de Vice-présidente et Derek McKee continue dans son rôle de Secrétaire-Trésorier. Grâce aux efforts de la présidente Shauna Van Praagh,l’exécutif pour l’année 2014-2015 est constitué de représentantes et représentants de presque toutes les provinces canadiennes. Nous avons aussi pu mettre sur pied quatre comités: un comité pour le site web, un comité pour l’adhésion, un comité organisateur du colloque annuel, et un comité constitué pour la participation de l’ACPD dans les questions d’actualité ayant un impact sur l’enseignement du droit. Nous avons aussi des représentantes et représentants des étudiantes et étudiants des études supérieures.

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Creating a Pro-Friendly Classroom

While there is much discussion about anti-bullying in schools, I think the focus needs to go beyond how to combat the menace of bullying and move to the next stage. My idea is to not just alleviate bullying and make the classroom a neutral setting but to create a pro-friendly classroom, one in which the focus is not just on being civil but being friendly. Also, I am very interested in exploring how to make classrooms a ‘safe space’ for the exchange of ideas and tolerance but also ‘friendly spaces’ in that creating a warm, happy environment for students might help to foster learning. This may be a tall order at a law school but I have hope. The idea that I am working on is something akin to anti-bullying but more along the lines of ‘pro-friendly’.

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