Archive for ‘Pedagogy’

March 17, 2011

Various Articles Lead to the Same Conclusion: Women’s Experiences in Law School are Unique

by Angela N. Johnson

Taken together, the articles reflected upon in “Hey There’s Ladies Here!” persuade the authors “that a substantial proportion of law students – many, but by no means all of them, women students – experience frustration, or alienation, or both, because of law schools’ failure to engage and develop the full range of intellectual capacities necessary for successful and responsible practice . . . legal education must be broadened and deepened to encompass neglected but important aspects of the intellectual work that legal professionals do” (Berger, et al. 1998, 1025).

“Hey There’s Ladies Here!” reflects on Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School, and Institutional Change by Lani Guinier, Michelle Fine, and Jane Balin, Women in Legal Education: A Comparison of the Law School Performance and Law School Experiences of Women and Men by Linda F. Wightman, Law School Admissions Council, What Difference Does Difference Make?: The Challenge for Legal Education by Elizabeth Mertz with Wamucci Njogu and Susan Gooding, and Cultivating Intelligence: Power, Law, and the Politics of Teaching by Louise Harmon and Deborah W. Post.

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March 16, 2011

Reducing the “Becoming Gentlemen” Affect by Increasing Female Law Faculty

by Angela N. Johnson

Carlson’s review of Lanie Guinier’s  “Becoming Gentlemen” argues that the alienation of women and minors continues in law school and that institutions must focus on institutional acceptance and absorption of diversity in place of the imposition of a “one-size-fits-all” mentality (Carlson 1998, 317).  Additionally, Guinnier’s “latest work provides a timely contribution to the defense of affirmative action policies in law school faculty hiring decisions” (Carlson 1998, 318). However, Carlson’s review of “Becoming Gentlemen” “concludes that while Guinier’s findings are valauble, law schools need to first focus on providing women with equal access to desirable faculty positions before her recommendations can become a meaningful reality” (Carlson 1998, 318).

Hypothesis: In order for women law students to achieve equal experiences in law school, law schools must increases the proportion of women faculty because they will serve as mentors to women law students. To do this, affirmative action programs which have recently come under attack, must be defended.

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March 14, 2011

Legal Education, Feminist Epistemology, and the Socratic Method

by Angela N. Johnson

Susan Williams is a professor of law at Indiana University School of Law (Bloomington) and previously clerked on the D.C. Circuit for Ruth Bader Ginsburg (my absolute heroine).  Williams’ article, “Legal Education, Feminist Epistemology, and the Socratic Method,” examines the use of the Socratic Method and other pedagogies and the impact they may have on educating women.  She also examines other articles on this subject, most notably, Deborah Rhodes’ paper, which criticizes both the style and substance of contemporary legal education from a feminist point of view (finding the pedagogy to be hierarchical and authoritarian, emphasizing students’ inadequacies and encouraging counterproductive competitiveness).

Time for a New Pedagogy?

Williams believes that the way law is taught (taking emotions, morals, and values out of the discussion) hinders learning, especially for women.  “That is, we cannot really understand a case without understanding its context and its personal impact.  The knowledge afforded by the traditional legal curriculum is, therefore, woefully inadequate to the task of lawyering and also, I believe, to the task of thinking about the law.  In other words, there is an epistemological failure here as well as a moral failure” (S. H. Williams 1993, 1573). Further, the use of the Socratic Method, seemingly harmless, “has become the repository for all of the problems of mainstream epistemology” (S. H. Williams 1993, 1574).

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