Semester of Graduation
First Major Professor
Master of Arts (MA)
Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies
This paper looks at the foundations of legal education and how it supports our political institutions. It is critical to rethink the motivations for and the replacement methods invoked with regard to the near-total abolishment of the Socratic Method in law-school courses. While this paper acknowledges the drawbacks of the Socratic approach, the desire is to identify these weaknesses as well as the potential benefits of adaptation above abolition. The scope of this paper will extend to address the primary critiques of the Socratic Method by proposing three adaptations to the Method itself. This will be done by laying out an argument in favor of: 1) expanding the Socratic Method to include broader engagement by the class, rather than wholly dependent on questions designed to simply reach a professor’s knowledge; 2) using the Socratic Method to give voice to underrepresented populations and experiences in order to expand empathy and moral imagination in the legal community; 3) mitigating the potentially detrimental impact of the Socratic Method by increasing professorial understanding of cultural and personal backgrounds which shape student engagement, requiring deeper empathy not only on the part of students but on the part of those entrusted to guide their way.
Embargo Period (admin only)
Peterson, Ryan, "Legal Education, Art Before Science" (2020). Creative Components. 607.