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Presentation on theme: "R ETHINKING THE G OAL OF C ULTURAL C OMPETENCE IN C LINICAL T EACHING Mary Jo B. Hunter."— Presentation transcript:


2 T HIS IS A TOPIC THAT I HAVE GRAPPLED WITH FOR MANY YEARS AS A CLINICIAN. Striving to teach law students and others to be competent at being cross-cultural is an unrealistic goal. The goal of teaching cultural consciousness is the goal that clinicians should aspire to

3 W HEN ONE CONSIDERS THE TERM “ CROSS - CULTURAL COMPETENCE ” IT CONJURES UP AN IMAGE OF : Some one who knows what to say as well as what not to say Someone who is culturally sensitive and appropriately responsive and reflective

4 The idea or sense of being cross-culturally competent infuses a sense of reaching a milestone or plateau in one’s evolving as to cross-culturally aware. It is a term that allows for the students of such awareness to have the false belief that they will one day achieve a competence of being cross-cultural. Such a definition is misguided if not totally incomprehensible.

5 P ROFESSOR C HRISTINE Z UNI C RUZ : “I specifically reject the term “cultural competency” because I do not believe outsiders to indigenous cultures can become ‘competent’ in an indigenous culture; there are too many aspects of indigenous knowledge that are not accessible to outsiders of the culture, even to those outsiders who spend their lives studying the culture. (citation omitted.)”

6 D R. H EATHER W. H ACKMAN Defined “cultural competency” as a “goal: to learn skills to be able to relate across cultural lines” Indicated that the term of “cross-cultural competence” should not be used as a goal for teaching lawyers as they prepare for the practice of law. Although it may be appropriate in discussions for social science professionals, it is insufficient for preparation of lawyers who need to understand the concept within the framework of justice.

7 A LAWYER SHOULD ALWAYS BE CONSCIOUS OF THE LANGUAGE THAT HE OR SHE USES. It is a cornerstone of our craft so we cannot afford to be careless with our words. It is our job as clinicians to teach our students the critical thinking required to be able to assess terminology and the impact of words. Since I teach law students about working on cases involved with the Indian Child Welfare Act, I am prone to address issues arising within our client base.

8 T HE POINT OF THIS DISCUSSION IS : That when one believes that he or she has achieved a semblance of cross-cultural competence that the task is completed. If law students are taught with a goal of becoming cross-culturally competent, the possibility of becoming immune to the process of being cross-culturally conscious is lost. They become overly confident in their ability to relate to other cultures. Such a belief breeds condescension and the very purpose of the process is lost by the offensive attitude of those who believe that they are cross-culturally competent. No one can become cross-culturally competent in another’s culture!

9 I T IS NOT MY INTENTION TO RE - INVENT THE WHEEL. The Five Habits of Professors Bryant and Peters are solid hallmarks of the pedagogy of cross- cultural teaching The process is most effective as a process used repeatedly to enhance a lawyer’s cross-cultural consciousness.

10 H ABIT O NE ESPOUSED BY B RYANT AND P ETERS To teach students to list and diagram similarities and differences between themselves and their clients.

11 H ABIT T WO Encourages student to identify and analyze the possible effects of similarities and differences on the interaction between the client, the legal decision-maker and the lawyer as the three rings.

12 H ABIT T HREE Is named “parallel universes” as a method for students to explore alternative explanations for clients’ behavior. This is an important tool in the arsenal of cross-cultural consciousness.

13 H ABIT F OUR Is called “pitfalls, red flags and remedies” and focuses on being cross-culturally sensitive.

14 H ABIT F IVE Is called “the camel’s back”, this habit calls for the student to be self-reflective as to exploring his or herself as a cultural being.

15 E XERCISE 1 You teach a clinical course which is primarily family law cases. Although it is not your usual practice, you and your students agree to visit a potential client at her home as she has a disability. Although she has use of a mobility service, her recent surgery has made it extremely difficult for her to move about and leave her home. She lives in a senior citizens complex for those who qualify for subsidized housing. As you drive the team of students, one female and one male, the female student starts to exclaim that she is unaware that they were meeting their potential client in a “housing project”. She says that she hopes that the apartment is clean and chuckles. You decide to refrain from commenting until after the interview. Once you are in the apartment, you and the male student remove your coats and sit down. The female student looks around and remains standing. The potential client asks her to grab a chair from the kitchen if she would like to sit. She obtains a chair from the kitchen and sits gingerly on the edge of the chair for the complete interview. Please consider what your approach will be to debrief this student. What “culture” is a part of this hypothetical? How do you address cultural differences in this context?

16 E XERCISE 2 Your clinic represents Guardian ad Litems who work on cases involving the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) represents the best interests of the child in child custody proceedings. You are conducting your weekly meeting with a team of students. Both students appear to be Caucasian students. Their client, the GAL is a Native American/American Indian woman who has represented many children over many years. You are meeting with the student attorneys to hear about their preparations for their initial interview with the client as to why she needs representation for an upcoming trial where the County is seeking an involuntary termination of the mother’s parental rights. One of the students informs you that her great grandmother is a Cherokee Princess. She states that although she considers herself to be Native American she is not “registered” as a member of the Cherokee Tribe. However, she informs you and her teammate that she knows a lot about Native issues as she has been to the reservation and has attended local cultural events such as powwows. She states that she should take the lead role in the interview as she already knows quite a bit about the culture. Her teammate looks surprised and a little concerned. You recall that her teammate was to have been the lead as it was her “turn” to handle an interview. You look at your interview outline for students and realize that the answer is not to forge ahead with their interview preparation. Rather, you need to intercede and redirect the students to a culturally conscious approach. How do you handle it?


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