Bond University

Article Title

Law Teaching Reconceptualised


For many years programmes designed to improve the quality of teaching in institutions of higher education focused on how to teach — the techniques of teaching. The Australasian Law Teachers Association Law Teaching Workshop was no exception. This quite technical emphasis parallels a “technical rationalist” perspective, which reflects an epistemology of practice derived from positivist philosophy. The maintenance of such a philosophy allows one to adopt an atomistic view of knowledge, one which is based on the assumption that teaching is a “bag” of skills that we collect and perform; thus, good teachers display a range of techniques and methods which are readily transferable irrespective of subject matter. By divorcing discipline and pedagogical epistemologies, for example in education and law, this approach fails to recognise that good teaching is grounded in a marriage of the two, as we advocate here. Moreover, it inhibits the further development of our understanding of what constitutes good teaching in law. In this article we describe the redesign of the Australasian Law Teachers Association (ALTA) Law Teaching Workshop, which was made possible by the award of a Commonwealth Staff Development Committee (Cathie) grant to Griffith University and the Queensland University of Technology in 1994. This new, holistic model embodies a reconceptualisation of law teaching in which teaching as a practice is not only embedded in the epistemology of education but also in that of law.