Legal expert and music connoisseur
Anyone who has taken a law class with Chris Hardcastle will tell you he’s hilarious. Aside from being a respected and easily-accessible figure at Capilano University, little do most people know that their favourite legal instructor is also a doting father of two young girls and a passionate music aficionado who plays classical and flamenco guitar in his spare time.
Hardcastle has been teaching at CapU for four years, but his academic journey here began many years ago. As a first-year undergraduate student at CapU, he studied political science and philosophy before transferring to UBC and eventually became a lawyer. Although he’s been teaching for seven years now, Hardcastle still remembers connecting with his first classroom full of students at BCIT.
“I remember showing up on the first day and walking down the hall, thinking ‘I have no idea what I’m going to say to these students,’” he recalled. “I started introducing myself and I don’t remember to this day what I’d said, but there was a chorus of laughter and I knew at that moment, humour had to be part of my style.”
Not only did that moment help him realize his own teaching style, but it also set the foundation for a successful learning environment that’s welcoming and exciting for students.
“I try to keep class formally informal so that we’re talking about the material, but it’s a conversation. We talk about legal material in a way that’s relatable to them,” he said, adding that he tries to always make time for his students. “Being here and having a home in terms of an office and a full-time job, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the students and they’re really terrific.”
Hardcastle practiced as a lawyer until 2015, when he decided to pursue a master’s degree researching legal theory, psychoanalytic theory and semiotics at SFU. “I’m doing my master’s in humanities… to consider how judges think and talk about the law, and how [it] can offer quite a limiting view on the results that can fall from a case,” he explained.
In the upcoming summer and fall semesters, he’s looking forward to continuing his research. Along with spending time with his kids and their adopted cat, Johnny John-Bax Smithers, Hardcastle also tries to practice guitar every day. He even dreams of travelling to Europe to study classical and flamenco guitar. “I would immerse myself completely in music,” he said, revealing that he often drew inspiration from the late iconic Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.
“It was Gould’s approach to music that was really inspiring,” said Hardcastle, describing his admiration for Gould’s unapologetic way of interpreting musical texts and imposing his own style and voice into the music. “He made it such that the artist who was playing the work was as important as the composer, and I think that’s really important.”
Hardcastle even tries to carry this philosophy into his teaching, and hopes that students will be empowered to inspire change through their work. “You’re not just there as a passive recipient of what has come before you. You can actively interpret what’s there and create something new.”
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