A philosophy professor writes:
Our department is thinking about ways we can convert students who take one class for accidental reasons (it fulfills a requirement or it fits a time slot) into students who take a few more classes. We’ve talked about a few strategies here, and I’ve looked around online a tiny bit for resources, but I thought this might be the sort o..
In introductory college courses in the sciences and social sciences, and even some humanities disciplines like history, the material taught largely consists of basic claims, findings, and ideas that most of those in the discipline agree upon. Could there be such a course in philosophy? (more…)
Many college course have meetings of recitation or discussion sections in addition to the course lectures which are sometimes run by the professor, sometimes by teaching assistants. What goes on in the recitation is usually supposed to be different than the kind of thing that happens in the lecture; the small size of each recitation group, relative to the course’s w..
Maybe, just maybe, if more of the comments on our student evaluations looked like the following, they’d be worth it: (more…)
Racist violence has been a defining feature of the United States since its creation. One risk of focusing on highly visible instances of racist violence, such as the “Unite the Right” rally by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend, is to make it seem more exceptional and more recognizable—and more alien to ordinary America..
Hello, fellow academics, it’s August 1st, the date that indicates the summer is, sadly, soon over. Amidst the scramble to meet deadlines and knock items off of that to-do list, it’s also time to make sure you’re prepared for your teaching. (more…)
If there’s a question that comes to mind when people see the word “philosophy” it’s this: “what’s the meaning of life?” (more…)
Philosophy departments often include in their pitch to undergraduates the claim that studying philosophy can improve one’s thinking skills. But does it? (more…)
What should the curriculum of a philosophy major look like?
Specific answers will vary across different types of schools, but perhaps at some level they will have enough in common such that it would be useful to discuss the question in general. (more…)
Last summer, Landon Hedrick, a PhD student at the University of Nebraska who, while working on his dissertation, teaches philosophy at the Vanguard Classical School in Chicago, wrote in with questions about teaching logic and critical thinking to high school students. He now has some questions about teaching more controversial topics in a high school philosophy clas..
Well, given my background I knew virtually no philosophy. So I have taught myself most of the philosophy I know by teaching it. If I wanted to learn about something, I would teach a course on it (keeping a couple of weeks ahead of the students). I have learned a lot of philosophy this way, and it’s been a blast.
That’s Graham Priest (CUNY) in the What Is It Like ..
Micah T. Lewin, a recent PhD from Stanford who is currently an adjunct professor of philosophy at Perimeter College, Georgia State University, has created an impressively detailed and helpful rubric for grading philosophy papers. (more…)
I was never trained or advised how to teach. I just imitated what I liked about my own teachers… Once I said in a lecture that some philosophical problem was very hard, and nobody knew how to solve it. Such a remark would have strongly motivated me, but the look on most of the students’ faces said “So why bother us with it? Go away and solve it, then you can come ..
The school year is wrapped up at some places, and about to be wrapped up at others. We could use some positive vibes around here, philosofriends, so please share some of your favorite teaching experiences from the past year. (more…)
The following is a guest post* by Christina Hendricks, Professor of Teaching in the Department of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, about creating an “open textbook” for introductory courses in philosophy. It originally appeared on her blog, You’re The Teacher.
A site called Match College lists philosophy as the 89th most popular major. It comes in just after “Baking and Pastry” and “Respiratory Therapy,” which is perfect, because if true I will need to take some deep breaths and console myself with a piece of cake. (more…)
Nick Byrd, a PhD student in philosophy at Florida State University, has posted about the classroom poster session that students in Marcela Herdova‘s Free Will & Science course recently took part in. He says that it “was one of the most enriching classroom experiences I’ve ever witnessed.” (more…)
Every once in a while a student will make some remark about philosophy (or about reading or writing philosophy, or about a philosophy course) that perfectly captures an aspect of it in an interesting or new or funny way. Sometimes these are in the form of complaints that their professors take as compliments, e.g., “this course makes my brain hurt.” Sometimes they ar..
Clifford argued that we are morally responsible not merely for what we do and say, but also for what we believe… When we show ourselves to be uncritical and careless with own our beliefs, we implicitly invite others to do the same. And, perhaps more obviously, we invite others to fool us. We encourage dishonesty and deception. Each time we believe something that ..
“Service learning” is a combination of learning and community service. Students partake in activities to directly or indirectly help members of their community in ways that reinforce or enhance what they’re learning in the classroom. (more…)
Nick Byrd, a philosophy PhD student at Florida State University, has created a shorthand that he uses for commenting on his students’ papers. He describes it as having the virtues of the “grading shortcuts” method advocated by Rebecca Schuman and the more extensive approach advocated by Marcus Arvan. (more…)
“It’s in the syllabus,” we tell our students—so often there should be a t-shirt. Oh wait, there is. But perhaps we could make that information easier to spot? ChiaHua Lin, a PhD student in philosophy at the University of South Carolina, tries to do so by creating infographic supplements to her course syllabi. They highlight some of the important information about ..
A philosopher writes in seeking advice on starting a new program at his college:
I teach at a Catholic small liberal arts college. My department teaches philosophy in the core and offers a minor. I’m thinking of pushing for an integrated major common to many colleges and universities called PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics). I need to gather evidence, tes..
The world is awash in bullshit. Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. So-called higher education often rewards bullshit over analytic thought. Startup culture has elevated bullshit to high art. Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit, then take advantage of our lowered g..
A new school term will be starting soon. Perhaps it is a good time to share with students the following account of their obligations to their professors:
The first obligation, particularly operative during the first weeks of a new semester, is a moderately good will toward the teacher, a trust, a confidence that is willing to admit to oneself that the teacher has..
Can you get your students to sing about philosophy? Sara Bernstein, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, can. With a little incentive, her students at Notre Dame (and before that, at Duke) have belted out some surprisingly sophisticated philosophical covers of popular songs. (more…)
The following is a guest post* by Holly Lawford-Smith, lecturer in philosophy at the University of Sheffield (and soon-to-be senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Melbourne), on teaching about altruism. (more…)
Are you organizing a philosophy program for undergraduates for the Summer of 2017? If so, please share information—dates, location, theme, website or email contact, etc.—in the comments here. (more…)