|Upon reflection, I discovered that my teaching practices are underpinned by three main core beliefs.
First, I am a strong believer in research-led teachings. This means I prefer, and, indeed, I am only able to teach the subjects I actively research into. This belief could be traced back from the time I did my LLM degree in the United Kingdom. There, each module or subject was taught on a fortnightly basis over a semester. That meant, for each subject, students only went to class for just six weeks each semester. In each class, students had to do preparation by reading prescribed materials in advance and each lecturer in class only focused on conducting discussion to probe students' knowledge and to stimulate thoughts. Prescribed readings were so extensive that one actually could not finish reading all materials within two weeks. As an international student, I found it was very tough to let alone catch up with all readings, not to mention any attempt to engage in discussions. Yet, not getting anything out of the classroom was not a concern as an assessment for each subject was done by a pure 5,000-word research paper on the topic of each student's choice but within a broad scope of the subject. I found that working on a research paper for each subject was a great experience as I could research into materials on the topic I was truly interested in. I could feel that I indeed build the knowledge myself. This led me to pursue my PhD degree. Therefore, when I was asked to draw a picture which represented my teaching belief, I thought of a "bookshelf".
My first academic career was at the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong. There, I had opportunities to teach the subject on marine insurance law, among other subjects. This subject was the one most in line with my background as I got my PhD in this field. In my teaching, I imitated the experience I got. The only difference was that I had to do a three-hour lecture each week for 13 weeks. I gave students a recommended reading list for each week containing a list of cases and other relevant materials. I prepared my teaching for each topic based on my research. In my teaching of each topic, I went through core concepts, explained core cases, and put in my own analysis of each case. At times, I admit my teaching may not be entirely clear as, like research, at times the analysis can be open-ended. I assigned students to write a research paper of 5,000 words each on the topic of their interest but within the scope of the subject. I marked each assignment thoroughly, looking at the structure of their assignment, the materials they referred to, the way they analysed, etc. Hence, the materials I used in my teaching were different in each academic year as I focused on cutting-edge materials. I had to keep myself up-to-date with case laws as these were good materials I fed into my teaching. In the process, I would find a venue for my students who did their paper well to get their work published. Indeed, some students saw their work in the journal. This practice is in line with the second belief of my role to build up people and see them grow.
To some extent, this second belief is intertwined with the third belief in my role as a teacher and in the context of the higher education that the university is a place to prepare students for jobs. Prior to joining academia, I had worked as the Head of Legal & Insurance Section of a local ship-management company based in Hong Kong for two and a half years. With my background in the industry, I had links with different people in the local industry. At the City University of Hong Kong, courses I taught were within the Master of Laws (LLM) in Maritime & Transportation Law. Students who chose to study for this degree aspired to work in the shipping industry in some ways. Therefore, while I was teaching highly analytical conceptual knowledge, I also shared with them, where relevance, my experiences in practice and highlighted differences between theories and practices. I also tried to bridge/link students with the industry. In my other capacity as a Member of the Executive Committee of the Hong Kong Insurance Law Association Limited, I always organised an event where students and industry people could meet in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere where students could mingle with professionals and acquired information on the type of jobs these people do. Each academic year, I also organised a class visit to a shipping insurance company. I realised each individual student and I tried to find their career aspiration. Then, I guided them through their career path, for example pointing each of them to where they may seek internship opportunities. This was where I gained pride as a teacher. I was particularly proud when, after some years, students could come back to me and said they found what I had taught to be useful for their career. They remain in contact until this date even though I am now in Australia. Sometimes, they still send me messages to pick up my thoughts on the case or the problem they are handling at work.