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Addressing Emotions in Preparing Ethical Lawyers

Submitted by Nigel Duncan on Fri, 09-10-2010
Long title
Addressing Emotions in Preparing Ethical Lawyers
Chapter author(s)
Duncan, Nigel
Chapter author(s)' contact information

The City Law School,
City University, London,
4, Gray's Inn Place,
London WC1R 5DX
Book title
The Impact of emotions on learning and teaching the law
Book editor(s)

Maughan, Caroline
Maharg, Paul
Book type
Place of publication
United Kingdom
This chapter considers the impact of emotions in preparing students to develop a sound ethical practice as lawyers. It looks at research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology to see how the insights developed there can help us as teachers to understand the factors which affect our responses to ethical dilemmas. While recognising the significance of the cognitive domain for an understanding of the professional Codes it focuses on the affective domain: in particular, the importance of empathy and moral courage in ethical behaviour. It then applies those insights to the learning activities with which we engage our students and to curriculum design. While avoiding any attempt to persuade students to adopt any particular moral stance it seeks to empower students to think critically about the situations in which they will find themselves and the values underlying the professional norms they will encounter.
It forms part of a book currently being prepared for publication which is described as follows:
As law teachers we are all aware of the importance of emotion in student learning. Our experience tells us that highly motivated students tend to do better; that as our student numbers are rising, feelings of isolation and insecurity are increasing; that today’s students are assessment-driven more than ever before; that some students, turned off by law early on in their studies, become bored, lose motivation and confidence.
However, when we look at the design of our programmes, we seek in vain for mention of those aspects of humanity which are not in the realm of understanding and manipulating propositional reasoning. Whilst the development and assessment of cognitive abilities have become highly formalised, the affective remains the private business of the learner and of any tutors who care to engage with it.
Interest in the relationship between affect and cognition has increased significantly in the last 20 years. Recent science – so far as it goes, and so far as we understand it - supports the importance of recognising the role of emotions in learning and of creating learning strategies and environments that teach and reach the whole student. This book will contribute to the better understanding of emotions in learning and teaching in the domain of legal education.
A pre-review copy of the chapter, not for citation, is available from the author.
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