SLS conference 2016, Legal Education section, plenary

by Paul Maharg on 09/09/2016

I was asked to give a plenary talk to the SLS Legal Education section.  I invited Dirk Rodenburg, Director of Undergraduate and Professional Programs from Queen’s University Law School, Ontario, to join me to talk about his new simulation platform as part of the presentation, and to talk about his unique blending of medical and legal educational approaches.  Slides up on Slideshare and on the Slides tab above.

The keynote concepts derive from Seamus Heaney’s luminous collection of essays, The Redress of Poetry, which comprised (most of) the lectures he delivered as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and which I’ll expand on in another post.  Abstract below:

In his 1995 Oxford Lectures on Poetry Seamus Heaney describes the ‘imaginative transformation of human life’ that can be brought about by poetry.  He characterises the effect of poetry as being one of redress.  Moving from definitions of the word as reparation for a wrong done, or compensation, Heaney explores its further meanings: to set right, to restore, or to re-establish.  He dwells upon an obsolete meaning of the word in a definition drawn from hunting, namely ‘to bring back (the hounds or the deer) to the proper course’, and suggests that this may define a key characteristic of poetry.  For he argues that while poetry can act as a mode of redress for social, political or some other objectives (for example ‘proclaiming and correcting injustices’), poets are ‘in danger of slighting another imperative, namely to redress poetry as poetry, to set it up as its own category’.

In this plenary presentation we suggest that legal education is in need of redress, and that in a similar move we need to turn to the educational value of education itself.  We describe this in a number of different sub-fields.  First, we argue for redress in the better organisation of research and research transparency.  Second, we espouse the interpretation and re-readings of our history and traditions in order to reshape them for our own times (and not just those of legal education but other, sometimes forgotten, streams of educational activity and value represented for example, and most pertinently in its centenary year of publication, by Dewey’s Democracy and Education).  Third, we call for the development of sound educational strategies and frameworks to support the adoption and use of new digital technologies in legal education, the development of which in recent years has drifted out of our hands and into those of publishers and others, whose motives are not primarily those of an educational community.   These technologies, while not an end in and of themselves, can help to redress issues of access and what can be a disconnect between legal theory and practice.

Jane Ching, my colleague from Nottingham Law School in Nottingham Trent University, gave the next plenary, entitled ‘Greener grass and re-invented wheels: researching together’.  Major connectivity problems, though, and couldn’t liveblog her session alas.  A fine presentation, though, outlining many of the problems facing current legal research.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tammy Hervey September 9, 2016 at 02:25

Gutted that my marvellous question didn’t make your account …😉

But in all seriousness – thanks so much for the presentation and discussions.


2 Paul Maharg September 9, 2016 at 08:32

Sorry Tamara! Actually I rarely manage to get questions down because I don’t tend to have my laptop open – and that’s because it takes a better reporter than me to concentrate on questioner, on question, context, answer and type it all out at more or less the same time. And oddly enough, I find it difficult to remember questions. Actually that’s an interesting point, for you’d think that questions would stimulate more active and deeper learning. I think the issue is that I quickly go into cognitive overload if I try to record my interior thought processes in listening and then my answer. I guess the way round the problem is to record the question sessions and write it up later. Possible. Anyway thanks for making me think now about it — and of course it was a marvellous question…


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