Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday morning--Plenary II
Professor Larry Krieger of FSU School of Law spoke on empirical studies relating to humanizing legal education. He began with the idea that we have an old, no longer workable philosophy that shaped traditional legal education and that legal education needs to be transformed by a philosophy that recognizes and respects human nature, including its characteristics of choicefulness, consciousness of progress, self awareness, and a desire for happiness. (He then pointed out that traditional legal education tends to violate all four.)
He proposed a definition of humanizing that includes the following: promotion of autonomy and competency; promotion of growth; promotion of integrity; provision of autonomy support; and emphasis on intrinsic over extrinsic motivations and assessment of self-worth.
He then briefly reviewed research into linguistic patterns in law school that maintain the dominant (and arguably outmoded) philosophy: parties rather than people; precedent rather than morality; win/lose rather than right/wrong. A new philosophy--transformative of legal education--would encourage metacognition (reflective awareness), morality and choices, a respect for the whole person and that person's genuineness, and a constant awareness of possible suppression of feelings and displacement of values. This new philosophy would not deny the traditional mindset, but would reposition it as one that works only part of the time, rather than being the only one.