People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully cont..
The Alexis de Tocqueville Project in Law, Liberty, and Morality at the University of New Orleans has been offering free for-credit college philosophy courses to local high school students. It sounds great. Chris Surprenant, assistant professor of philosophy at UNO and director of the Tocqueville Project, shared some information about the course:
The overarching f..
Margaret Crouch, a philosophy professor at Eastern Michigan University, was team-teaching a large group of students with two other professors, while, unbeknownst to the three, many of the students were using the class time to post hostile and vulgar remarks about them via Yik Yak. (If you don’t know Yik Yak, think of it as a local anonymous twitter feed in which old..
One thing that makes us different from most of our undergraduate students is that we really enjoy philosophy and they do not. It may drive us to frustration and despair sometimes, but, generally, we find it interesting and take pleasure in it in a way that is foreign to our students. Yet, every once in a while its possible to get students to catch a glimpse, firstha..
When it comes to teaching philosophy, how offensive may we be, and in what ways? Recent discussions here, particularly regarding teaching same-sex marriage, have raised this issue, but those conversations have been dominated by discussion of the plausibility of arguments regarding that substantive matter. Though it has cropped up, the issue of the role that offensiv..
“How Academic Philosophers Are Trying to End the Gay-Marriage Debate—and Getting it Wrong” is the title of a new article in the National Review. Written by University of Colorado Ph.D. student Spencer Case, the article picks up on a discussion had here at Daily Nous about the matter back in November.
Despite their field’s reputation for interminable controversy..
Most colleges and universities have students fill out forms to evaluate their instructors’ performance at the end of the term. Semesters are just beginning around now, but it is not too early to start thinking about those evaluations. One study found that “students’ ratings 2 weeks into the semester did not differ from end-of-semester evaluations.”
There are lots..
The students sit in pairs at a computer terminal, and after reading Cullen’s synopsis of a particular argument, they try to map it. The room fills up with whispered suggestions, lines tested and rejected, double negatives made positive. Most of the boxes into which they enter text are red or green. The green ones contain evidence supporting the above premise; the re..
A new website, Best Practices for the Inclusive Philosophy Classroom, has launched. It is an interdepartmental project, started by Minorities and Philosophy (MAP), which aims to be “an easily accessible launching pad for teachers who want to make their philosophy classrooms more inclusive.”
The site includes anthologies and other resources for diverse syllabi, ad..
Since most of our undergraduate students are planning to go to graduate school in philosophy and become professional philosophers, it makes sense that the undergraduate philosophy curriculum is typically filled with courses that prepare them for that future. Their courses should introduce them to the way that contemporary professional philosophers understand their f..
Lisa Guenther, associate professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt University, has developed a new philosophy course, “Police Violence and Mass Incarceration,” which she will be teaching this coming term. I think it is a great way of showing students a way in which philosophy can interact with current events. I asked her about the course, and in an email she writes:
I settled on my New Year’s resolution while giving a lecture to 85 masters students. It was one kid who unintentionally suggested the idea. He was sitting in the back row, silently pecking away at his laptop the entire class. At times, he smiled at his screen. But he rarely looked up at me. I had a choice. I could disrupt the class to single him out. Or I could do w..
Philosophy will become a part of the secondary school curriculum in Ireland, according to an announcement by Minister of Education Jan O’Sullivan, reported in the Irish Times. The country’s National Council for Curriculum and Assessment will develop a “short course” in philosophy that will be taught to students in the early years of secondary school (approximately a..
In the Tusculan Disputations, Cicero famously says, “Socrates was the first to call philosophy down from the heavens and set her in our cities, bring her into our homes, and compel her to ask questions about life and morality and the nature of good and evil.” At a community college, my students—aspiring plumbers and harried moms among them—helped me to rediscover th..
Do any of you use virtual worlds or video games in your teaching of philosophy, and if so, how? In conversation the other day a colleague expressed an interest in creating a virtual world in which an epidemic was taking place, and having students immerse themselves in it to learn about addressing some of the various ethical challenges that confront agents in such si..
A philosophy graduate student and instructor at Marquette University is the target of a political attack initiated by one of her students, facilitated by a Marquette political science professor, and promulgated by certain advocacy organizations.
Cheryl Abbate, a Marquette PhD student working on a dissertation in ethics, has provided me with information about the ..
Most colleges offer lower-level philosophy courses on contemporary moral problems, one of the aims of which is to teach students how to think philosophically about assorted social and political issues. There are more of these kinds of issues than could be covered adequately in a semester, so the instructor must select which to include, and there may be some difficul..
As was reported last month, a detailed investigation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed an academic fraud scandal in which philosopher Jan Boxill played a central role. Previous evidence focused on her role as an academic advisor who directed students towards fake or “paper” classes, helped students write papers, ignored academic dishonesty ..
Bob Hargrave was, I am told, a much-loved lecturer in philosophy at Oxford University (he died in 2012). Among his pedagogical contributions is a document he prepared called “Rodin’s Thinker, or How To Fail Philosophy Exams.” It was written for Oxford students, but much of it is applicable to philosophy exams (and some writing assignments) given anywhere.
Here are problems with group-work that I have observed or heard about multiple times from students:
- the members of the group (unless the group is the whole class) do not include an expert on either the topic for discussion or the assigned reading on it, so mistakes can go uncorrected and misunderstanding can be increased (if plausibly, confidently, or charisma..
As part of the course, college students are teaching second graders at the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence in Springfield to question their own assumptions, lis..
Most of the discussions regarding “assessment” are fine examples of exactly what we do not want to see college producing: vague and uniform truisms, hooked up with measures so meaningless as to guarantee that nothing will ever change. It is the deadened life of the bureaucratic mind. But imagine, as an alternative, academics charting the careers of students who have..
Philosophy professor Jan Boxill was named as an active participant in an academic fraud scheme in a 136-page report issued earlier today by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill entitled “Investigation of Irregular Classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.” The report details the existence of a number of phony “paper classes.” Accordi..
At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else. I had thought of her as one of the brightest people I knew and her subsequent career supports that view. What she said bothered ..
Adam See (Brooklyn College) wrote a letter to his philosophy students at the end of the past semester. It begins:
I am no longer your professor. Throughout the semester many of you have asked me what my personal beliefs are on the topics we’ve discussed. As I understand it, the reason that professors are reluctant to discuss their own beliefs come..