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Clinical Law Review



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Jungian Personality Theory; Teaching Law; Psychology; Learning Styles; Carl Jung


Personality theory illuminates recurring problems in law school teaching. While the roots of modern personality theory extend back to Hippocrates and the theory of the four humors, contemporary ideas owe much to Carl Jung's magisterial book, Psychological Types. Jung's work gave us the categories of introvert and extrovert, as it explored what has come to be understood as the cognitive bases for our habits of mind. These are powerful ideas but also complex and sometimes obscure. Applying them to law school teaching and learning (and law practice) can be very fruitful, if we pay careful attention to ourselves and colleagues, the structure of the ideas we convey, the complexity of the skills we aim to sharpen and the settings in which we teach and learn. While the theory has something to say about teaching and learning in large groups, the most widely cited pedagogic notion that flows from personality type theory -- the claim that teachers should match their mode of presentation to the learning styles of the students -- is not among them. In the large classroom, we might better match our modes of presentation to the structure of the ideas we are conveying than varying our presentations to appeal to a heterogeneous group of personality types. But when we work with individual students and small groups to build problem solving, interpersonal and collaborative skills, personality type theory can be a powerful guide to how we teach as well as a useful set of ideas for our students. This paper discusses Jungian Personality Theory and the lessons it offers in a variety of teaching and learning settings in law school.