How to Teach (Philosophy): Readings Sought


What readings about teaching would you assign to philosophy graduate students?

That’s the question sent in by a philosophy professor tasked with developing a teaching curriculum for philosophy graduate students. Graduate students are rarely explicitly trained in how to teach college students, so what articles, books, websites, etc., are worth assigning and going over with them to help make them better teachers?

Thanks.

Some related posts: “How Will You Try to Improve Your Teaching?” (several links in that post), “Philosophy Teaching Games“, “Teaching As if Our Students Were Not Future Philosophers.”

book sculpture by Kylie Stillman

 

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James Olsen
James Olsen
2 years ago

James Lang’s Small TeachingReport

Javier
Javier
2 years ago

Here are some resources that have helped me:

–James Lang, Small Teaching (here I second James Olsen’s comment): this is an excellent resource for basically every college teacher in my view. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to read educational research because it may require radical change and it’s often unclear how to implement it. Lang’s book is about small-scale changes that are evidence based. He also helpful explains exactly how to implement them in the classroom. And it is genuinely fun to read.
https://www.amazon.com/Small-Teaching-Everyday-Lessons-Learning/dp/1118944496/

–Peter Brown et al. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning: an up-to-date primer on the cognitive psychology of learning and how to implement it in the classroom. A close second to Lang’s book in my view.
https://www.amazon.com/Make-Stick-Science-Successful-Learning/dp/0674729013

–I’ve been strongly influenced by the research on argument mapping. Intensive argument mapping classes seem to be relatively effective at teaching good reasoning, close reading, and argumentation. My favorite article on this is:
https://www.reasoninglab.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Twardy-Argument-Maps-Improve-CT.pdf
There are other good resources here:
https://www.reasoninglab.com/research-on-critical-thinking-argument-mapping/

I hope that these are helpful to other people too. Report

Michael Brent
2 years ago

Many institutions have excellent teaching resources, available online and on campus. As a graduate student, I learned from the ‘Center for Teaching and Learning’, here: https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources/, which has freely available content. Hopefully, your institution supports a similar office that could help you develop a teaching curriculum for your philosophy graduate students.

Another great resource, which, I believe, has been noted in a previous post here on a related topic, is ‘Teach Philosophy 101’, at: https://www.teachphilosophy101.org/

Philosophy Compass publishes a ‘Teaching & Learning Guide’ for a variety of specific topics, which I’ve found helpful on a couple occasions

Lastly, after graduate school, I benefitted tremendously from being observed while teaching. If possible, incorporating this into the teaching curriculum for philosophy graduate students could be excellent

Good luck!Report

DS
DS
2 years ago

Well, most likely this professor should look at issues of Teaching Philosophy and the APA Newsletter on Teaching! Great articles are to be found there. When I first began teaching I was assigned to teach ‘Critical Thinking’, a course I had never TA’ed for, or even taken as an undergrad. I was pretty unsatisfied by the approach of most of the standard textbooks in the field. I knew I needed to find a new approach. So, like any good academic, I did some research. I found a wealth of reflections on teaching Critical Thinking in the journal Teaching Philosophy. Many people felt the exact way I did and wrote on different approaches to the course. This research helped me to redesign my course–I internalized the ideas of many different people and then developed my own approach, which is exactly what I would do for any area of philosophy I would want to learn more about. Which articles are useful will depend on the direction this particular individual wants to take. There are many pieces on, e.g., how to implement group work in philosophy, how to get students to do the assigned reading, how to improve philosophy writing skills, etc.

There is a lot to be learned from actually reading the pedagogy journals in philosophy. To many people in our profession overlook this material, and this material should be the first resource for designing a curriculum on philosophy pedagogy. I think this should be an obvious first choice–it is much more informative on how to actually implement new pedagogical approaches and troubleshoot problems with the approach. Likely there is not much to be gained from reading a few websites or anecdotes on message boards about how to implement more group work in philosophy in terms of real changes to one’s approach. Most people would not take this approach to learning any area of philosophy.

I gained a get deal from reading publications in the area of writing pedagogy, much of which is applicable to teaching philosophy. Although philosophers take themselves to be experts in argumentation, I am not sure we have thought enough about how to teach argumentation. There is much to be gained from what people in interdisciplinary writing programs have to say about the teaching of argumentation and rhetoric.

Finally, in writing pedagogy there is a lot of emphasis on lesson planning, a word I never actually heard as a grad student. I can’t emphasize the importance of lesson planning enough (it sounds like what elementary teachers do, but really it is what every good teacher does). What i mean by this is an outline of what you plan TO DO with the students in each class session. This is much more than the topics you will cover. Lesson planning, in my opinion, is what makes group work actually work (lesson planning forces you to work out the logistics ahead of time, create a hand out, think about expectations, anticipate challenges, etc), leads to diverse activities in the classroom, and makes for much more valuable uses of class time. So, if you expect your students to say, develop an original thesis for a paper, then you should have an activity in class that helps them prepare to do this! (e.g., in an intro class). I am not an expert on this literature, but as academics, we all have access to pretty good libraries!!

Bottom line: if you want to learn more about teaching, do what you would do with any area in philosophy you would want to learn more about!Report

DS
DS
2 years ago

One more thing: send these students to the biennial AAPT conference, which has a special session on teaching for grad students. I did not go the grad student thing, but I have learned a lot from simply being a participant in the conference!

https://philosophyteachers.org/conference/

Report

David Concepcion
David Concepcion
2 years ago

Robert B. Barr & John Tagg, “From Teaching to Learning: A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education,” Change Magazine, 27/6 (Nov/Dec 1995): 13-25; James E. Zull, The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning (Stylus Publishing, 2002); Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe, Understanding by Design, 2nd ed. (Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 2005); Susan A Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, Marie K. Norman, How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (Jossey-Bass 2010); Linda B. Nilson, Teaching at Its Best, 3rd. ed. (Jossey-Bass, 2010); Maryellen Weimer, Learner-Centered Teaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013); Linda B. Nilson, Creating Self-Regulated Learners (Stylus, 2013); Terry Doyle and Todd Zakrajsek, The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony With Your Brain (Stylus, 2013); Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross, Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd ed. (Jossey-Bass, 1993); Stephen D. Brookfield, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher (Jossey-Bass,1995); Barbara J. Duch, Susan E. Groh, and Deborah E. Allen (eds.), The Power of Problem-Based Learning (FALMER/KP, 2001); Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do (Harvard, 2004); Bette L. Erickson, Calvin B. Peters, and Diane W. Strommer, Teaching First-Year College Students (Jossey-Bass, 2006). : Emily Esch, Kevin Hermberg, and Rory E. Kraft Jr. (eds.) Philosophy Through Teaching (Philosophy Documentation Center, 2014); Emily Esch, “A Cognitive Approach to Teaching Philosophy,” Teaching Philosophy, 36:2(2013): 107-124, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil201336216; Jeffrey Maynes, “Thinking about Critical Thinking,” Teaching Philosophy, 36:4(2013): 337–351, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil2013931; Patrick Stokes, “Philosophy Has Consequences! Developing Metacognition and Active Learning in the Ethics Classroom,” Teaching Philosophy, 35:2(2012): 143–169, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil201235216; Ann J. Cahill and Stephen Bloch-Schulman, “Argumentation Step-By-Step: Learning Critical Thinking through Deliberative Practice,” Teaching Philosophy, 35:1(2012): 41-62, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil20123514; John Rudisill, “The Transition from Studying Philosophy to Doing Philosophy,” Teaching Philosophy 34:3 (2011): 241-271, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil201134332; Stephen Bloch-Schulman, “When the ‘Best Hope’ Is Not So Hopeful, What Then? Democratic Thinking, Democratic Pedagogies, and Higher Education,” Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 24:4 (2010): 399-415, 10.1353/jsp.2010.0018; Cynthia Coe, “Scaffolded Writing as a Tool for Critical Thinking: Teaching Beginning Students How to Write Arguments,” Teaching Philosophy, 34:1(2011): 33-50, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil20113413; John Immerwahr, “The Case for Motivational Grading,” Teaching Philosophy 34:4 (2011); 335-346, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil201134446; Daryl Close, “Fair Grades,” Teaching Philosophy, 32:4(2009): 361-398, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil200932439; Alexandra Bradner, “Teaching Modernity in Appalachia,” Teaching Philosophy 31:3(2008): 229-247, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil200831325; and J. Carl Ficarrota, “How to Teach a Bad Ethics Course,” Teaching Philosophy 32:1(2009): 53-68, DOI: 10.5840/teachphil20093214.
AND LOTS MORE. Contact the American Association of Philosophy Teachers or the American Philosophical Association Committee on Teaching. Report

Brandon Warmke
Brandon Warmke
2 years ago

Robert Boice, _Advice for New Faculty Members_Report

Danny Weltman
2 years ago

David Concepción left out his own excellent article “Reading Philosophy with Background Knowledge and Metacognition,” https://www.pdcnet.org/pdc/bvdb.nsf/purchase?openform&fp=teachphil&id=teachphil_2004_0027_0004_0351_0368Report

Quadratic
Quadratic
2 years ago

5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. This book is a staple in math education methods courses and a National Council of Teacher’s of Mathematics best seller. Although the book is about teaching math, the 5 practices are highly relevant to teaching philosophy. Even without a strong math background, the casual reader of this book will learn a well-conceived approach to facilitating discussions. I recommend this book as a former philosophy professor and current math teacher.Report

Steve
Steve
2 years ago

Not a book or article, but Harry Brighouse routinely posts about teaching philosophy on crooked timber. I have learned a huge amount both from his posts and the discussion they generate. They’re a great resourceReport

Alan White
Alan White
Reply to  Steve
2 years ago

Hear hear Steve. Professor Brighouse has devoted years to research on improving the quality of higher education–especially undergraduate education–and is the Director of the Center for Ethics and Education in Madison:

http://ethicsandeducation.wceruw.org/about/staff.htmlReport

D
D
2 years ago

I encountered Jennifer Whiting’s “Cultivating Dialectical Imagination” (in Local Knowledges, Local Practices: Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell (2014)) as a graduate student, and it’s been a huge influence on how I think of the aims of my teaching.Report

Ian Stoner
Ian Stoner
2 years ago

Melissa Jacquart and Jessey Wright have a paper that outlines a graduate course in effective philosophy instruction. Their proposed syllabus is a great resource, with key readings grouped by topic.

Melissa Jacquart and Jessey Wright, “Teaching Philosophy Graduate Students about Effective Teaching,” Teaching Philosophy, Volume 40, Issue 2, June 2017. DOI: 10.5840/teachphil201771366
Report

Jake Wright
Jake Wright
2 years ago

James Lang’s work is, of course, excellent. I don’t believe I’ve seen his “What the Best College Teachers Do,” which predates “Small Teaching” and is equally vital in my view.

Peter Markie’s “A Professor’s Duties” is an excellent book on teaching by a philosopher and hands down the best teacher I’ve ever met; at Mizzou, much of the informal teaching advice passed among graduate students was some variation of “study Markie intently.”

Teaching Philosophy and Teaching Ethics have a number of helpful articles on specific issues unique to teaching philosophy, ranging from how to teach specific courses (e.g., philosophy of science) to how to teach in certain ways (e.g., team teaching a topic) to how to address in-class issues (e.g., technology bans).

Don’t overlook general SoTL journals (e.g., Teaching in Higher Education), though I’ve found they’re mostly useful when one already has an avenue/question they want to explore.

Finally, because many pedagogy seminars have some sort of syllabus construction requirement/project that ends up significantly influencing actual courses that are taught, the Diversity Reading List (diversityreadinglist.org) is a vital resource.Report

Y
Y
Reply to  Jake Wright
2 years ago

Re “What the Best College Teachers Do” — did you have Ken Bain in mind? (I think David Concepción mentioned that title too). Report

Jake Wright
Jake Wright
Reply to  Y
2 years ago

I did. It’s been a long day.Report

Patrick Derr
Patrick Derr
2 years ago

I would recommend Whistling Vivaldi, to any beginning teacher. Stereotype threat is a significant problem, and Steele offers some ‘easy to grasp’ ways to reduce it. Report

docf1987
docf1987
2 years ago

Mortimer Adler’s Paideia Project
https://www.paideia.org/paideia-proposalReport

H
H
2 years ago

The Philosophy Foundation (charity in the UK) has a lot of good resources for teaching (or introducing) philosophy to younger kids. Now, I actually think that the same resources can do wonders in seminars even with undergrads and graduate students — I’ve seen their co-founder Peter Worley run better seminars with undergrads than any of my actual professors… Report

Andrew P Mills
Andrew P Mills
2 years ago

Self promotion here. Philosophers in the Classroom, forthcoming in a couple months from Hackett. Edited by Steve Cahn, Alexandra Bradner, and me (Andrew Mills). This is a collection of about 25 personal essays from people teaching at all sorts of Institutions about their experiences, the challenges they overcame, and some personal advice about how to live a life as a philosophy teacher.Report