One of the questions Diana Blackburn, Chisholm legal studies teacher, is most often asked is, “Why do you teach at TAFE rather than university?”
Diana replies with firm conviction, “Because I believe students at TAFE deserve the same quality of education”.
She's a stickler for quality, integrity and ethics in her field of teaching law.
“We’ve got a reputation to sustain at Chisholm,” says Diana.
“Students come here, especially school leavers who perhaps haven’t studied law before and, at advanced diploma level, legal studies can be demanding. I instil the expectancy they CAN do well, that they are here to build career prospects and that many past students have gained excellent employment opportunities. I give them encouragement because it’s a broad course, but worth doing.
“Graduates can be employed, for instance, as court registrars, administrators, legal executives or alternatively, go into any legal department, whether it is government or a private company. Some students go on to a variety of degree courses and then into executive roles.
“We get many types of students, different ages and backgrounds, some with learning disabilities. I look after their total welfare and I’ll know what kind of individual learning plan we should adopt within two weeks of them starting the course”.
Diana, who practiced as barrister in England, cut her teeth in teaching at the University of Kent.
Arriving in Australia she worked as a solicitor, and then put her career on hold for a while to devote herself to raising her children.
After joining Chisholm five years ago, she now teaches full-time and still finds time to act as an advocate in court occasionally.
Diana teaches law in the Certificate IV in Legal Studies (“an overview and introduction”), the Advanced Diploma of Legal Practice (“covers a broad range of subjects including academic and computing units”) and the Bachelor of Accounting in the business law module (in association with La Trobe University).
“I’m hot on ethics and I spend considerable time keeping my own professional development up-to-date. I’m also interested in neuro- learning; how the brain works and how that can help my students with their learning and growing.
“A law course is never a waste of time because, while legal knowledge is important, students gain so much more. As well as ethics, integrity and the meaning of trust, they gain personal empowerment … and that will stand them in good stead throughout their life”.
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