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Access_open Special Issue on Active Learning and Teaching in Legal Education

Editorial

Journal Law and Method, February 2019
Authors Bart van Klink, Hedwig van Rossum and Bald de Vries
Author's information

Bart van Klink
Bart van Klink is Professor of Legal Methodology, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Hedwig van Rossum
Hedwig van Rossum is lecturer-researcher in the Department of Legal Theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Bald de Vries
Bald de Vries is lecturer at the Department of Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law of the Faculty of Law (JCAL), Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

    In legal education, criticism is conceived as an academic activity. As lecturers, we expect from students more than just the expression of their opinion; they have to evaluate and criticize a certain practice, building on a sound argumentation and provide suggestions on how to improve this practice. Criticism not only entails a negative judgment but is also constructive since it aims at changing the current state of affairs that it rejects (for some reason or other). In this article, we want to show how we train critical writing in the legal skills course for first-year law students (Juridische vaardigheden) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. We start with a general characterization of the skill of critical writing on the basis of four questions: 1. Why should we train critical writing? 2. What does criticism mean in a legal context? 3. How to carry out legal criticism? and 4. How to derive recommendations from the criticism raised? Subsequently, we discuss, as an illustration to the last two questions, the Dutch Urgenda case, which gave rise to a lively debate in the Netherlands on the role of the judge. Finally, we show how we have applied our general understanding of critical writing to our legal skills course. We describe the didactic approach followed and our experiences with it.


Bart van Klink
Bart van Klink is Professor of Legal Methodology, Department of Legal Theory and History, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Lyana Francot
Lyana Francot is Associate Professor of Legal Theory, Department of Legal Theory and History, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    This article introduces the concepts of play and playfulness within the context of legal-philosophical education. I argue that integrating play and playfulness in legal education engages students and prepares them for dealing with the perpetual uncertainty of late modernity that they will face as future legal professionals. This article therefore aims to outline the first contours of a useful concept of play and playfulness in legal education. Drawing on the work of leading play-theorists Huizinga, Caillois, Lieberman and Csikszentmihalyi, play within legal education can be described as a (1) partly voluntary activity that (2) enables achievement of learning goals, (3) is consciously separate from everyday life by rules and/or make believe, (4) has its own boundaries in time and space, (5) entails possibility, tension and uncertainty and (6) promotes the formation of social grouping. Playfulness is a lighthearted state of mind associated with curiosity, creativity, spontaneity and humor. Being playful also entails being able to cope with uncertainty. The integration of these concepts of play and playfulness in courses on jurisprudence will be illustrated by the detailed description of three play and playful activities integrated in the course ‘Introduction to Legal Philosophy’ at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


Hedwig van Rossum
Mr. H.E van Rossum, LL.M., is a lecturer-researcher in the Department of Legal Theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and has been teaching the freshman course ‘Introduction to Legal Philosophy’ since 2011.
Artikel

Access_open Skeptical Legal Education

How to Develop a Critical Attitude?

Journal Law and Method, February 2013
Keywords academic learning, skepticism, Oakeshott, judgment, Critique
Authors Bart van Klink and Bald de Vries
AbstractAuthor's information

    Law teachers at the university want students to develop a critical attitude. But what exactly does it mean to be critical and why is it important to be critical? How can a critical attitude be promoted? In this article we intend to elucidate the role that critical thinking may play in legal education. We will introduce the idea of skeptical legal education, which is to a large extent based on Michael Oakeshott’s understanding of liberal learning but which relativizes its insistence on the non-instrumentality of learning and reinforces its critical potential. Subsequently, the article presents a teaching experiment, where students, based on self-organization, study and discuss basic texts in order to encourage critical thinking.


Bart van Klink
Bart van Klink is professor of Legal Methodology at VU University Amsterdam and head of the Department of Legal Theory and Legal History at VU University Amsterdam.

Bald de Vries
Ulbaldus de Vries is lecturer of Legal Theory at the Department of administrative and constitutional law and jurisprudence at the Faculty of law, Utrecht University. He is a founding-member of the Working Group on Reflexive Modernisation and Law.
Artikel

Access_open Kuhn and Legal Research

A Reflexive Paradigmatic View on Legal Research

Journal Law and Method, January 2013
Keywords legal paradigm, scientific revolution, social theory, reflexivity, responsibility, risk society, cosmopolitanism
Authors Ubaldus de Vries
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article seeks to describe a paradigmatic view on legal research, based on the thought processes underlining Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in particular as how revolutionary change is coming about through a reflexive attitude towards developments that do not fit in the prevailing assumptions in an existing paradigm or research methodology. It allows for a description of ‘normal legal research’ and the assumptions upon which normal legal research is based. It also allows for an explanation as to how these assumptions are no longer exclusively valid but carry with them limitations in the face of structural developments at the level of society. An important feature of the paradigmatic view, then, is that it is able to take issue with these developments by incorporating social theory in our understanding of law.


Ubaldus de Vries
Ulbaldus de Vries is lecturer of Legal Theory at the Department of administrative and constitutional law and jurisprudence at the Faculty of law, Utrecht University. He is a founding-member of the Working Group on Reflexive Modernisation and Law.
Artikel

Access_open Hoe moet recht worden onderwezen?

Journal Law and Method, February 2012
Keywords curriculum rechtenstudie, aard van het recht, positief recht, (hulp)wetenschappen
Authors Jaap Hage
AbstractAuthor's information

    The central issue of this paper is to outline a scientifically oriented course in law. Most actual courses focus on positive law, and the main conclusion of this paper is that this is wrong. This conclusion is based on the premise that law is not by definition positive law, but the answer to the question which rules should be enforced by collective means. This premise is argued in the full paper.Positive law is law to the extent that it should be enforced by collective means, and not by definition. Therefore a scientific course in law should pay some attention to positive law, but should not assign it the dominant place in the curriculum which it presently tends to have.To make this abstract idea more concrete, some proposals are made for a law curriculum. The starting point is that the law bachelor should only address positive law where this is necessary for exercises in legal reasoning. Moreover it should address the viable fundamental visions on the nature of law, the main theories about normative reasoning (main currents in ethics), and the facts which are relevant in the light of these normative theories for the question which norms should be enforced by collective means. These facts include both positive law and the results of the different sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, economy, and biology) which are relevant to answer the normative question. Because there are too many scientific results to take in during a bachelor course, the study of the sciences should be replaced by an introduction to scientific method, which allows lawyers to evaluate the outcomes of scientific research. Finally, the bachelor course should also address ‘generic positive law’, the main questions which must be answered by legal systems and the most viable answers to these questions.The master phase of the curriculum should, for those lawyers who want to practice the positive law of a particular jurisdiction, be filled with the detailed study of the relevant positive law.


Jaap Hage
Jaap Hage is hoogleraar Algemene rechtsleer aan Maastricht University.
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