Teaching Law, Learning Law: Growing Up Intellectually
Peter Mirfield, Fellow in Law, Jesus College
It was my “luck” to be asked to read out my essay at the very first tutorial any of the first-year lawyers at my old college had ever attended. First, be it noted — and this is very much part of the tradition — it took place at another college.
The subject-matter was, as I recall, something to do with slavery in Roman Law. I had done all the reading, that is, at least my eyes had followed the words, and I did have “good notes”. But, in order to write the essay, I gathered together chunks from the various writings, glued them together in some sort of order. It looked a very neat product, and I went contentedly to sleep.
Contentment disappeared when I got the call to read. My recollection is that I managed to get four words out before my interlocutor intervened, although, on reflection, I think it may have been ten or twelve. I am sure that his words were, ‘What do you mean by that?’.
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Ahnaf Abdul, 3RD YEAR COURSE I Graduated 2011
Before I came to university, my expectations of studying law were a mess. On the one hand, I’d been told that it would involve camping in the library each day with a gas mask to stop my dust allergies. On the other hand, I’d also been told that these years would be the best of my life. In a way both were right: I find that I’m enjoying myself while working hard, although there have been some unexpected challenges.
One area with more trials and errors than most, though, was tutorials. Before I started studying, I had the vague impression that tutors would simply ask me about what I’d read. And that does happen, but if that’s all you want you might as well skip university and just read the textbooks and answer the questions yourself.