After a lifetime of experience, former judge & politician ponders fresh perspectives offered in class

By Costa Maragos Posted: December 22, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Gary Lane enrolled in three classes at the U of R. By auditing the classes, students are not required to write exams or essays. Says Lane: It’s been a tremendous personal experience.”
Gary Lane enrolled in three classes at the U of R. By auditing the classes, students are not required to write exams or essays. Says Lane: It’s been a tremendous personal experience.” Photo - External Relations

Gary Lane looks as comfortable walking the hallways of academia as he did as a judge in Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal or as a longtime member of Saskatchewan’s Legislative Assembly.

The learning for Lane has not stopped. Soon after retiring from the bench in Spring, 2017, he started auditing three classes at the U of R in the Fall semester. Students who audit a class do not write exams or essays. It’s simply a great learning opportunity.

Lane earned his Bachelor of Arts degree and his Law degree at the University of Saskatchewan. He practiced law in Saskatoon and Regina and entered politics where he held a seat in the Saskatchewan Legislature for 20 years. That was followed by an appointment to the province’s Court of Appeal where he served from 1991 to May 2017.  

Lane continues to keep very busy and that includes taking classes at the U of R. We spoke with him about his experience returning to class and his advice for others thinking of doing the same.

What’s it been like for you being here at the U of R?

At a minimum, it’s been very interesting. First, I’m very appreciative of the opportunity the University gave me. And secondly, it’s been just a tremendous personal experience.

I’ve enjoyed every part of it. I particularly enjoyed the fact that I’m auditing which does not mean there’s not a fair amount of work. The classes require a great deal of reading and some research. But when auditing, one is not under the pressures of exams, papers, and presentations. It has been a way to learn without those stressors.  

I found myself at times putting the pen down in class and sitting back and listening and just learning. It’s been a pleasure.

What classes are you auditing?

I’m taking two history classes – Modern Dragons: Revolutionary China and Japan taught by Dr. Phillip Charrier and Renaissance and Reformation taught by Dr. Clay Burlingham. I also took a Shakespeare class – Comedies and Romances taught by Dr. Jan Purnis.
What made you come back to university?

I’ve always had an interest in history. I was a history major in university. I’ve had an interest in world affairs and public affairs so over the years I read a great deal in many of those areas and I knew it was something I wanted to do and to study some areas in more depth. I’ve never studied Shakespeare in University and it was something I always wanted to do. So it’s always been in the back of my mind.  

What do you think of the students in the class?

One brings their own life experiences into study and as a result, you do see things from a different perspective. So for me, it’s been quite interesting to see where the students are at and how they see some of the issues raised by the professors.  

What is the biggest difference you have noticed in university now versus when you took classes?

The biggest surprise I saw in history, was the manner of teaching. When I took history in university one took a period of history and you studied that period of history. In both history classes, the first couple of weeks were an overview; In other words how people in society arrived at this particular period under study. I found that very, very, helpful and very informative. I don’t recall history being taught like that - but that was a very long time ago.

I’m sure there are some people thinking of returning to university to audit classes. What’s your advice to them?

Just do it. I’ve been intrigued by the responses I get from friends and acquaintances when they find out I’m auditing classes. The usual reaction is “what a good idea” or “you know I thought maybe I’d like to do something like that.” All I can do is encourage them. The University is giving me and anybody else who is interested the opportunity to study. I encourage them to take advantage of the opportunity. It’s been a good experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I plan to take more classes in the future.
What else would you care to add about auditing classes at the U of R?

The whole experience has been good. Right from the assistance you get at registration and I particularly thank them for their help and through to talking to the professors and students.
Interested in auditing a class at the U of R? Our team at the Registrar's Office is happy to help you. Please visit here for more information.