‘Hell Is Other People’: Contemplating Seligman on Sartre and Recognising the Different Learning Styles of Extroverts and Introverts in Legal Education
Rachel Spencer (2022) “Hell is other people”: rethinking the Socratic method for quiet law students, The Law Teacher, DOI: 10.1080/03069400.2021.2005305
12 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2022
Date Written: 2022
This is the original manuscript of an article. It is a reflective analysis of my own teaching methodology arising from my experiences with teaching quiet law students, and reconciling this experience with a statement in Martin Seligman’s Flourish, his best-selling work about positive psychology. Seligman asserts that Jean Paul Sartre’s famous line ‘Hell is other people’ in his play No Exit seems ‘wrongheaded’ and ‘almost meaningless’ today. This article will argue that Seligman’s comments about Sartre’s existentialist angst are the views of an extrovert. This article argues that much of the teaching in legal education today relies on the assumption that law students are extroverts, when the opposite is in fact often the case. It argues that catering only to extroverts is inappropriate. It explores the idea that pushing the assertive agenda (through the Socratic method of teaching) is a symptom of the adversarial system that diminishes the development of less aggressive legal techniques to resolve problems and ignores the learning needs of students with personalities that tend towards introversion. It argues that the Socratic method of teaching perpetuates a culture that has no place in modern legal practice. It also suggests that progressive approaches to law and dispute resolution require more contemplation, more active listening and less aggressive advocacy.
Keywords: clinical legal education, introvert, extrovert, Socratic method, reflective practice, teaching methodology
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