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Mindfulness in Legal Education

 

Justine Rogers

At a University whose motto is Never Stand Still, there is a growing group of educators trying to find room for, well, stillness. Facilitated by Dr Patricia Morgan, Senior Project Officer, Office of the Director, Student Life and Learning, UNSW, its aim: to integrate ‘contemplative education‘ within teaching and learning at UNSW. I heard about this group through their May symposium, Standing Still to Learn, where one of my colleagues and contributors to this blog, Professor Prue Vines, was speaking. You can watch her insightful talk here. There was also a couple of excellent talks by psychologists, Dr Craig Hassad and Dr Richard Chambers, from Monash University, where ‘mindfulness education’ is becoming a deliberate and pervasive part of the University’s teaching practice. From my understanding, contemplative and mindfulness education can involve different philosophies and methods, but both seek to cultivate awareness, a sense of being present and calm, and less reactive forms of teaching, learning and behaviour generally.

The Contemplative Education UNSW group meets monthly. To be part of the group, you can sign up here. The group sent around a summary of its last meeting, where Prue provided an Introduction of mindfulness into her first year law class: Continue reading

Teaching by concentrating on unlearning

In a post Unlearning as Learning Outcome on the Best Practices for Legal Education blog, Barbara Glesner Fines discusses the idea that the most effective way teachers can help students learn is through identification of the misunderstandings that they need to ‘unlearn’ in order to grasp the subject.    It’s an interesting way to think about assessment – that it is not only for assessing student understanding, but also for probing for areas of misunderstanding that might persist or reappear across  sections of a cohort, and that can then be explicitly overcome by changing the way the course is taught.

Alex Steel

 

International students need to make local friends

Interesting piece at The Conversation on the importance of international students making local friends. It also strikes me that Australian students have much to gain from interacting with international students, on top of all the usual benefits of friendship. For example, they may generate international professional networks and learn about another culture. The practical question is how to get these two groups together. Many law school social events are exclusive in some way (for example we have social events for international students and separate events for eg indigenous students or Scientia scholars, both being by definition local). Perhaps what we need is a social event deliberately structured to get different types of students together. They had this when I studied at Columbia with eg JD/LLM mixers (the former being generally local, the latter generally international). Mind you, they also had more funding for social events generally. But perhaps something similar could be done here? Does anyone know of such events (eg in a different faculty or university)?

Lyria Bennett Moses