Learning to Mediate through Teaching Mediation

Thomas McMorrow

University of Ontario Institute of Technology

October 31, 2014

Abstract:

Just as mediation represents an agency-enhancing form of legal ordering, adopting the lens of mediation reveals ways in which law teaching may serve to facilitate student agency. Rejecting a managerial conception of law teaching and embracing a vision of the teacher as mediator acknowledges that the manner in which both teacher and students engage in working through conflict is at the very heart of legal study. Viewed through the lens of mediation, conflicts that law teachers encounter — both with students and within themselves — become re-presented as teaching and learning opportunities. Because one teaches law both through exhortation and example, how one teaches may serve to either sustain or undermine a vision of law that fosters human agency and serves to liberate human potential. Drawing on my experiences teaching Family Mediation, I demonstrate what it could mean to conceive law teachers as mediators. Although I specifically draw from my experience teaching Family Mediation within an undergraduate Legal Studies program, I believe that — by presenting both law and education as purposive, relational endeavours geared toward facilitating human agency — mediation offers an insightful frame in which to view law teaching within any number of sites of legal education, including law schools.

Learning to Mediate through Teaching Mediation

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