Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Danushka Medawatte (Harvard; Google Scholar), The Academic Displaced: The Eviction of the ‘Legal Educator’ from Pedagogy, Curriculum, and the Profession:
The legal educator in Sri Lanka occupies a precarious space which is increasingly leading to academic displacement. This is exacerbated by poor pedagogic choices which have gained popularity amongst student masses for not requiring laborious student-centred education. ‘Narration sickness’ that pervades academia is viewed as a safe choice and it therefore hinders pedagogical innovations and renders the academic redundant. Externally, legal academics are perceived as not performing a socially relevant function. The author invites the reader to see how the increasing push for recognising the legal ‘professional’ as a ‘court-centric’ practitioner contributes to academic displacement within a university culture that dissuades ‘academics’ to engage in ‘practice’. Within this backdrop, changes effected to the existing curriculum are aligned with ‘bureaucratic rationalism’ that has infiltrated academia, and, is, at the least, indirectly sustained through student lethargy. The author focuses on three deep-rooted causes of academic displacement: namely, pedagogy and intellectual demise, curriculum traditionalism, and the narrow construction of the ‘legal practitioner’.
The author warns that failure of academics to deal with these concerns will lead to academic displacement and makes an appeal to the academic community to reassess and reconceptualise pedagogy, curriculum, and the profession.