Dr Carwyn Jones
Carwyn is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law and teaches topics relating to Māori legal issues, the Treaty of Waitangi, and constitutional law.
Ngāti Kahungunu & Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki
What are you currently teaching?
I teach courses relating to Māori legal issues, the Treaty of Waitangi, and constitutional law. I also teach a section of the core 200-level Public Law course.
Tell us about your approach to teaching. What do you enjoy most about teaching at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington?
I try to build a good rapport with the class and create a learning environment where everyone feels comfortable (and, hopefully, eager) to engage in discussion. This can be especially important when dealing with subjects that are highly politicized or about which people have strong views. I also encourage students to work on current issues and see the work they do at university as part of a real public discussion that they can contribute to and influence.
I really enjoy the energy that the students bring to the issues we discuss. Many of our students are studying law because they want to make our laws and our legal system fairer and more just, or because they want to help people in difficult situations to know what their rights are and how to exercise their rights. It is really rewarding to talk through issues that I am passionate about with students who bring new perspectives and who are themselves determined to bring about positive change in our society.
What is your best piece of advice to current or prospective students?
I have two pieces of advice: when I was an undergraduate student, I don’t think I had a very good sense, or indeed had thought very hard, about how all the different parts of a course (lectures, readings, tutorials, etc.) fitted together and as a consequence, I don’t know that I really got as much out of courses as I could have. I now see how much easier I could have made things for myself if I had made sure I was better prepared to more actively participate in class.
As student you may also like to be aware that your feedback on courses and teaching is valued. Teaching relies partly on selecting content appropriate to the level of the class and the course objectives, partly on delivering that content in a clear and engaging way, and partly on the particular classroom dynamics. It is important to spend time reflecting on how each class went—what things went well, what maybe fell a bit flat—and both the formal and informal feedback we get from students is really helpful in this regard.