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..
Karen Hornsby, associate professor of philosophy at North Carolina A&T, has been recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as the North Carolina winner in their Professors of the Year competition. You can read more about Hornsby and her approach to teaching here. She was the only ph..
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..
The Westboro Baptist Church, a bizarre anti-gay cult comprised largely of the extended family of its late founder, is planning to picket on the campus of Marquette University this Sunday (correction: next Monday) morning, citing Fox News’ misleading account of Marquette graduate student Cheryl Abbate’s handling of an undergraduate’s desire to discuss same-sex marri..
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 ..
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..
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..
Arthur Ward (Lyman Briggs College, Michigan State) teaches a unit on charitable giving in his ethics course and has come up with a way of doing so that gets the students really interested and involved:
I had heard of others doing some group work in class with this topic, asking students to research effective charities. It occurred to me that this was a great idea, b..
It is not the purpose of a Philosophy class to transmit information or inculcate skills, however useful that may be. It is to introduce students to the life of the mind, with all the characterological as well as intellectual changes that requires. It is to welcome the young man or woman into a moral sphere in which argument, honesty, and a passion for ideas reign…
Many colleges and universities offer a lower-level course on “contemporary moral problems” or “ethics and social issues.” These courses typically include topics like free speech, affirmative action, abortion, drugs, same-sex marriage, capital punishment, poverty, treatment of animals, and the environment—and have for several decades. While these are important topi..
Normally, self-affirmation is reserved for instances in which identity is threatened in direct ways: race, gender, age, weight, and the like. Here, Nyhan decided to apply it in an unrelated context: Could recalling a time when you felt good about yourself make you more broad-minded about highly politicized issues, like the Iraq surge or global warming? As it turns o..
The notion of incarceration goes back to the beginning of philosophy, with the imprisonment and execution of Socrates—and the idea, expressed by his student Plato in the Republic, that we are all imprisoned by the cave of our own reflections but don’t realize it. “ face a lot of the issues ordinary people face, but in a heightened condition. We’re all doing life in ..
Traditionally, the liberal arts have been the privilege of an upper class. There are three big reasons for this. First, it befits the leisure time of an upper class to explore the higher goods of human life: to play Beethoven, to study botany, to read Aristotle, to go on an imagination-expanding tour of Italy. Second, because their birthright is to occupy leadership..
The American Association of Philosophy Teachers awarded their 2014 Lenssen Prize to Ann J. Cahill and Stephen Bloch-Schulman, both of Elon University, for their paper, “Argumentation Step-By-Step: Learning Critical Thinking through Deliberative Practice,” published in Teaching Philosophy 35(1) in March 2012. The Lenssen Prize is awarded to the best paper concerning ..
It is that time of the year when the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the semester is ending, and the students are asking, “I know I missed a lot of classes and didn’t complete some of my assignments but I was wondering if there is, you know, anything I can do now to get a better grade.” It is tempting to recommend “invent and use time machine.” But perhaps..
Currently over two million people in the United States are in prison, and about nine million worldwide. There are many questions worth asking about the systems of criminal justice that lead to that result. The focus of this post, though, is quite narrow. It concerns just one thing academic philosophers can do, as academic philosophers, in light of this: teach prison..