Legal educators – the peddler of precedent, the skill builder and the socially conscious knowledge generator
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The time is rife to encourage law teachers to evaluate their individual subjective views of the law before embarking on another study of best-suited methodologies for modular teaching. This article does not aim to entertain the various methodologies of legal education in order to determine a best-fit or fit-for-purpose standard of legal teaching. It rather examines the epistemological importance of the law teacher’s intrinsic view of law, and its translation in legal education, thereby recognising the continuous transformation of exploratory educational discourse. The article purports that the personal views of law held by a law teacher are expressed in the way law is interpreted and articulated to students. In illustration of the above premise, we refer to three general types of law teacher. The first type honours the positive law, thereby preserving the recognition of contextualised doctrinal institutions of the law. The second, and most sought after in the contemporary context, prizes applied skill as a commodity necessary for practice. The third type augments teaching philosophy with social responsibility and therein the pursuit of good justice. We conclude that all three types have advantages and challenges. However, South Africa, as a plural society, requires law teachers who acknowledge that law has a social mandate and that the knowledge they instil must be fused with social consciousness in order for students to contribute to both society and the development of law as a professional discipline.