PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Ané Pienaar
 
Comments: 6
Article views: 646
 
 
Latest Badges:

 
View all Ané Pienaar's badges.
 

The problem with legal education in South Africa

06 June 2014, 11:29

Recently, there has been increased discussion about the quality of legal education in South Africa. The general consensus is that students leaving university are not prepared for the profession. Candidate attorneys and directors alike agree; during your articles, you learn everything from scratch. So what is the point of even going to university? Why spend hundreds of thousands on an education that leaves you without any skills at all?

Wits University’s answer is to do away with the four year LLB programme and require that students first complete a BA or BCom degree, arguing that the problem is that law students are not exposed to a broad enough scope of knowledge, but even those students seem to struggle. For some reason, all the emphasis is placed on what is being taught but nobody considers the possibility that the problem is how we are being taught. The belief is that if you aren’t getting A’s, you have no idea what you are doing. But here we stand saying that not even the ‘A’ students know what they are doing. It is worthwhile to contemplate what skills traditional examinations are really teaching. They do not teach you to think, they do not teach you to analyse, what they teach you is to memorise a textbook of facts and to regurgitate it all onto paper after which the facts disappear from your memory anyway. In some courses, they do give you what they call “take-home exams”. It takes the same basic form of an assignment but gives you a weekend to answer questions that are substantially more challenging than exam questions. These papers require research, that you from an opinion and write convincingly; they require you to think.

It seems inconceivable to people that testing in this way could be at all valuable but getting your learner’s licence, does not mean you can drive. To get your learner’s licence, you learn the rules of the road and the theory of how to steer a car. With a few exceptions, if you put that learner in a car, they will generally start the car, put it into gear and then manage to let it die or drive it into a wall. Knowing the theory of how to drive is not enough, you need to practice before attempting to get you driver’s licence; many people have to try more than once before succeeding because it does not come naturally to everyone. University is where you learn to drive a car. You may remember the case names and theoretical concepts but when you are asked to really use them, you are stumped. John W. Gardner noted, Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.

Tests and examinations are biased towards students who have the ability to sit still and study for hours on end and remember every detail. But not every student is like that; some students have ADHD and can’t sit concentrate for more than 15 minutes, no matter how much you drug them. Those students do not get A’s. Those students are the ones who are overlooked when applying for articles because obviously, they are incompetent. What is so unfortunate is that many of these students are incredibly bright and more than capable. Often a conversation with one of them is far more enlightening and valuable than conversation with a straight-A student who can recite the entire Constitution but has no opinion on it. Taking a practical approach to testing, levels the playing field; everyone has access to the same information but how they manage to use it will be vastly different. These exams are not easy; some students still fail them. If they were easy, everyone would get 100% which I assure you, they don’t.

No studies have been conducted on this -and I sincerely hope that happens- but I have a feeling that even with the four year LLB programme, students leaving university with that kind of testing will be wildly different from the ones leaving now. Perhaps they may even leave without having every ounce of passion drained from them. The legal profession is not about memorising the entire law; that is factually impossible. Of course there are things that you have to remember but like learning to drive a car, these things stick with time and practice. What is really difficult is teaching your candidate attorney basic research and writing skills. What is difficult is having to provide an opinion and solve a problem after years of neglecting those skills. Yes, the legal professionals before us went through the standard system and are excellent attorneys and advocates, but why is it that everything in the world develops while education remains static? Why is memorising something that can be looked up on the internet in less than a minute valued above developing analytical and writing skills? I leave you with another quote: “Knowing how to think empowers you far beyond those who know only what to think.” 
? Neil deGrasse Tyson

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
BornAtheist
Evolution 101

The evidence that all evolution deniers and people like Ray Comfort and Ken Ham are wanting does not exist.  Read more...

6 comments 226 views
Submitted by
Melikhaya Yoko
South Africa is not free yet

The idea that we are free is a complicated one. We are free to a political extent but not economically so. Read more...

0 comments 101 views
NWU-Mafikeng students have spoken

It is very disturbing and nauseating to witness that the North-West University Mafikeng Campus has lost reputation and respect as a result of dishonourable actions by a few groups of people who fail to fulfil the responsibilities of the positions they hold in the university. Read more...

0 comments 88 views
Submitted by
Maryanne Kamunya
The tide of destruction!

July 2009 marked the beginning of my self-hatred and the gradual breakdown of my buoyancy.  Read more...

3 comments 469 views
Submitted by
Ann Muigai
The Crowning Fortune of Man

Whatever your calling is, you are fortunate enough. But you will need to define your goals and recoil from any excuses for not attaining them.  Read more...

0 comments 116 views
Submitted by
Nolizwe Hlope
My Metro Rail Nightmare!!

Trains are a decent form of transportation, they are on time, safe and cost effective, but not Metro Rail, oh no, definitely not Metro Rail.  Read more...

3 comments 2098 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2015 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.