Giving the Lowdown on Street Law
Acting Head of UKZN’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies Professor David McQuoid-Mason was a lead co-trainer in a Street Law Train the Trainers Workshop for Law teachers from 11 European countries held in Prato, Italy.
The other lead co-trainer and host was Professor Jeff Giddings of Monash University in Australia, assisted by representatives from the European Network of Clinical Legal Education (ENCLE).
Professor Catherine Klein of the Catholic University, Washington DC, in the United States, and Dr Jose Garcia Anon of the Ministry of Justice in Spain also assisted with the two-day workshop.
McQuoid-Mason co-taught sessions on the potential of Street Law, interactive methods of teaching Law to lay people and best international practices in Street Law. He also made an interactive presentation on using Street Law mock trials to involve multiple teams of participants and led a discussion on starting a Street Law programme from scratch.
The instructors gave participants guidelines on how to develop and prepare an interactive Street Law lesson after which they prepared and presented lessons they had developed.
During the workshop, McQuoid-Mason mentioned that interactive teaching methods ‘turn traditional law school teaching practices upside down’ for the following reasons:
- Interactive teaching is about the students not the Law teachers. The focus is on keeping students involved and not showing how much the lecturer knows
- Interactive teaching requires Law teachers to ask for their students’ views first before telling them what the law is instead of the traditional approach of telling them what the law is first and then asking them about it
- Less is more. Law teachers should not overwhelm students with information. Instead, they should give them essential information and show them how to find the rest for themselves
The workshop ended with suggestions on how to develop Street Law networks so that Law teachers can draw on the international experiences of their colleagues in Europe and around the world.
Although many of the Law teachers were experienced academics, they found the workshop inspiring, saying they would like to incorporate interactive teaching into their classes in future.