Nurturing Multiple Intelligences through Clinical Legal Education

By Hyams, Ross | University of Western Sydney Law Review, Annual 2011 | Go to article overview

Nurturing Multiple Intelligences through Clinical Legal Education


Hyams, Ross, University of Western Sydney Law Review


ABSTRACT

Legal pedagogy needs to take into account many of the theories of intelligence and creativity which have been proposed by educators in the last few decades, such as Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, Wechsler and Thorndike's concepts of emotional intelligence and Schank' s theories of narrative intelligence. Teachers of clinical legal education, because of its different pedagogical emphasis to traditional classroom learning, have begun to show increasing interest in nurturing and valuing displays of intelligence and creativity which are outside of the traditionally accepted methods of demonstrating intelligence in legal education.

This paper explores the concept of multiple intelligences within legal education. It proceeds from the premise that clinical legal education has the ability to apply its teaching methodologies in nurturing creativity, problem-solving and other skills which are not necessarily valued in mainstream legal education. It suggests ways in which legal educators can recognise, embrace and nurture multiple intelligences in law students. Finally, it makes suggestions for methods of law teaching which can better utilise and develop students' various forms of intelligence.

I. INTRODUCTION

Current legal pedagogy fails to take into account many of the theories of intelligence and creativity which have been proposed by educators in the last few decades. For the most part, legal education ignores Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, (l) concepts of emotional intelligence pioneered by Wechsler and Thorndike (2) and narrative intelligence first proposed in the 1970s and 1980s by Schank and his research group at the Yale. (3) In recent years, however, teachers of clinical legal education, because of its different pedagogical emphasis to traditional classroom learning, have begun to show increasing interest in nurturing and valuing displays of intelligence and creativity which are outside of the traditionally accepted methods of demonstrating intelligence in legal education, such as logic and analytical abilities.

Clinical pedagogy can be differentiated from mainstream legal learning in recognising, valuing and fostering multiple intelligences in its clinical students. Encouragement of students to recognise their own use of multiple intelligences and develop insight into the way they approach the resolution of legal disputes can lead to a lifelong change in the way students approach their lawyering. Clinical legal education has a unique opportunity to develop insightful, creative and inventive graduates through promoting and nurturing multiple intelligences in students.

This paper will explore the concept of multiple and emotional intelligences within legal education. It proceeds from the premise that clinical legal education has the ability to apply its teaching methodologies in nurturing creativity, problem-solving and other skills which are not necessarily valued in mainstream legal education. However, it is these skills that often distinguish excellent lawyers from the mediocre. It suggests ways in which legal educators can recognise, embrace and nurture multiple intelligences in law students. Finally, it will make suggestions for methods of law teaching which can better utilise and develop students' various forms of intelligence.

II. WHAT ARE MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES?

Until 1983, intelligence testing was dominated by the standard IQ test. In that year, Howard Gardner published his seminal work--Frames Of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. (4) Gardner has expanded his theories since the publication of this work to include further intelligences (5) and continues to refine his theories. (6) Gardner posits that rather than one single intelligence which can be measured by IQ testing, it is possible to identify up to 10 separate forms of intelligence in individuals. He identifies the traditional intelligence which is tested by IQ measurement as being "logical--mathematical intelligence". …

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