Creating the Optimistic Classroom: What Law Schools Can Learn from Explanatory Style Effects
29 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2009 Last revised: 13 Dec 2012
Date Written: October 11, 2009
In more ways than you know, you are what you think. That is the essential thesis behind the emergence of the newest field in psychology. This new psychology is a discipline that, unlike the old science of the mind, is no longer primarily focused on highly abnormal behaviors. Instead, this psychology looks to the basic processes of the human mind and asks probing questions to find out what makes human life work well and to discover ways to help healthy people avoid problems like depression and isolation. If it is true that we are what we think, every discipline, not just psychology itself, can benefit from new and important insights into the way the mind works. And in the law school environment, where depression runs rampant and otherwise healthy persons are often transformed into troubled, helpless, and in many cases clinically distressed individuals, this new field, widely called Positive Psychology, may plan an especially important role.
This article is primarily concerned with the implications that the studies of optimism and pessimism conducted in the context of Positive Psychology may have for student motivation in the law school learning environment. More specifically, this paper will address optimism, the language tied to the presence of optimism in the brain, the methods for importing that language into the law school classroom, and the possible effects of the teaching.
Keywords: Optimism, despression, law students, positive psychology
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