Translating the Values of Clinical Pedagogy across Generations

Publication Date

Fall 2013



Document Type



Clinical teaching is a Baby Boomer. After an extended infancy, it came of age in the 1960s. It challenged the entrenched isolation and aloofness of law school by questioning the very methods by which law is taught. Channeling the Boomers' cultural tenets of dismantling hierarchy, fostering collaboration, and advocating for social change, it shook off legal academia's suit and tie and rolled up its sleeves, bringing the community into the classroom and putting the university to work. These Boomer-era values are reflected in clinical teaching's enduring core principles of non-directive teaching, reflective practice, close and immediate supervision, learning from experience, and a commitment to social justice.

In clinical education's formative years, teachers, students, and pedagogy were sympathetically aligned. All came from the same generational neighborhood and brought similar perspectives on the purposes of education, work, and advocacy to the clinic. Today, generational diversity is the norm. Baby Boomers mentor Generation X colleagues in the teaching of Millennial students. Generational variety brings a multitude of different approaches to clinical pedagogy. There is no longer a presumptive unity between social and pedagogical perspectives. Clinical teachers and students must now mind the generational gap.