Affect and Legal Education published

by Paul Maharg on 01/11/2011

Affect and Legal Education, co-edited with Caroline Maughan, is now published and will be available later this month. Been quite a while in the making, but a book on the topic was long overdue.  I remember when writing an article on legal education and Carl Rogers, over a decade ago, how surprising it was that so little was written about emotion and learning the law.  Coming from an Arts & Education background (particularly adult education), it seemed strange that there was a reluctance to discuss the issue, and research it (more on that at this post).

We don’t have to look far for the reasons.  As Caroline and I say in the blurb, the difficulty of interdisciplinary research, the technicisation of legal ed itself, the view that affect is irrational and antithetical to core western ideals of rationality — all this and more has helped make the subject invisible.  Yet the educational literature on emotion proves how essential it is to student learning and to the professional lives of teachers.

Our book, probably the first full-length book study of the topic, seeks to raise the profile of emotion for legal educators, and restore the power of emotion in our teaching & learning by accessing the research carried out on emotion and learning in the past few decades.  Part I focuses on the contribution that neuroscience can make to legal learning, a theme that is carried through other chapters in the book.  Part II explores the role of emotion in the working lives of academics and clinical staff; and Part III analyzes the ways in which emotion can impact on or influence teaching and learning.

More on different aspects of the book in later posts, but for now I’m so glad it’s out there.  Working with Caroline on the project was great — couldn’t have had a better co-editor.  The authors — enthusiastic, committed, patient, producing insightful chapters — were wonderful to work with, too.

We were lucky to have Alan Lerner write a chapter for us — ‘From Socrates to Damasio, from Langdell to Kandel: the role of emotion in modern legal education’.  Alan was a delight to work with on the project.  He was a superb clinician, a wonderful teacher, witty, living in the moment, utterly committed to learning, teaching and its research.  He died soon after completing his chapter.  Our book is dedicated to his memory.

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