The law textbook: Same same?
Subsequent to the middle of the 19th century the university increasingly became the centre of legal education. At this time, one of its primary aims was to provide students with an accurate and complete account of the practice of law (Cownie, 2006). The generality of the study of law meant that students were exposed to a larger and ever increasing volume of information. Feasibly, this could only be achieved if the delivery of information was done in a systematic way. The textbook became the principal platform for teaching law as it allowed for such systematic delivery of content (Cownie, 2006).
The textbook, as a method of instruction, continues to be central to organised pedagogy at all grade levels (from primary to tertiary education) and across all disciplines (Onderdonk, Allen & Allen, 2009). Despite the benefit of systematic organisation, the long production and distribution cycle of textbooks means that they provide students with trailing rather than leading edge information (Onderdonk, Allen & Allen, 2009). This effect is even more pronounced in rapidly changing subject areas, such as law. Additionally, the legal profession and the global market demand that graduates possess more than a theoretical knowledge of the legal system and its workings. To be competitive, apart from a doctrinal knowledge of the law, the recent graduate must possess a complement of creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills (Thomas, 2000).
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