What if I told you there was an easy, scientifically-proven, five-minute method for improving your teaching? Just five-minutes, and your teaching ratings go up. No, I’m not talking about giving your students candy when you have them fill out the course evaluation forms. I’m talking about an actual improvement in learning outcomes, based on real science. How much wou..
Welcome back to Ought Experiment! Today’s question is from a full professor that has done everything right, built a successful career, and yet finds her/himself miserable in professional philosophy. S/he wants to know whether it’s just a case of burnout or whether it’s time to go:
I have been a professor for almost 20 years. I’ve worked h..
Welcome back to Ought Experiment, which sadly is not a comic strip. I think this week’s question is about getting kids to do the assigned readings, but if I’m being totally honest with you here, I kind of skimmed the letter:
I can’t get my students to do the readings! Maybe a third of them will be with me for the first few weeks, but term after te..
Sukaina Hirji and Daniel Wodak, two graduate students at Princeton, are currently teaching a class of fourteen prisoners at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility in New Jersey. You may recall that they were two of the philosophers interviewed here previously about their experiences teaching philosophy in prison.
Their course this term is called “Philos..
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..
We’ve seen the following: the questioning of a professor’s ability to teach well because of the effect on his or her students of the professor’s expression of a controversial opinion. This was one element of the debate surrounding Steven Salaita’s tweets. For example, he wrote on Twitter, “If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.” Concerns ..
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…)
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..
“Critical thinking” means a very particular sort of thing to philosophers (mostly identifying, reconstructing, and evaluating arguments), but in the desperate struggle to stay relevant, other academic disciplines have started to appropriate the term “critical thinking” to describe what they do. I have read blog posts and articles by historians and literature profess..
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 ..
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…
The fall term has begun at several schools and is about to begin at others, and for at least some professors that means putting the finishing touches on syllabi. Need readings suggested on Subject S? Need a piece which argues for Position P? Need a complement to Canonical Character C? Need a you get the idea and didn’t really require all of those Examples E? Fine. P..
Alex Guerrero (Penn), is wondering what philosophers think should be done in a first-year PhD proseminar. He writes:
Given all the recent discussion about the canon, the problematic effects of policing the borders of philosophy, the white maleness of philosophy, and so on, what do people think should be done in a first-year PhD proseminar? Assume it’s a semester ..
The American Philosophical Association (APA), the American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT), and the Teaching Philosophy Association (TPA) have announced the creation of the Prize for Excellence in Philosophy Teaching. (more…)
In a series of columns at the Chronicle of Higher Education, James M. Lang, a professor of English at Assumption College, has been suggesting small changes to teaching that, he argues, could make a big difference in student learning. Among the suggestions:
- Arrive early to have a little small talk with individual students (different ones each tim..
Lecturing as a teaching style is not particularly trendy these days, but perhaps it is particularly well-suited for the humanities. Writing in the New York Times, history professor Molly Worthen (UNC) makes the case:
In the humanities, there are sound reasons for sticking with the traditional model of the large lecture course combined with small weekly discussion..
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..
Bob Fischer is an assistant professor of philosophy at Texas State University. In a brief conversation over the summer, he shared with me an observation about a problem teaching philosophy to college students and I thought, “no, that can’t be correct.” But he was right, and he was doing something about it. In the following guest post, he explains the problem and how..
This week, two philosophers—Kwame Anthony Appiah (NYU) in the New York Times Magazine and Gary Gutting (Notre Dame) in The Chronicle of Higher Education—have discussed the point of a college education.
Appiah observes that there are “two distinct visions of higher education contend throughout our classrooms and campuses.”
One is “Utility University,” which..
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..
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 ..
Stéphane Mercier, the visiting assistant professor of philosophy at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium whose courses were suspended recently because of a lecture he gave in which he argued against a right to abortion, has been fired. (more…)
Colleen Cressman (MIT) draws our attention to the Open Syllabus Project. The project is a work in progress aimed at creating “the first large-scale online database of university course syllabi as a platform for the development of new research, teaching, and administrative tools.” It has a collection of over a million syllabi culled from the internet and other source..
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..
Last week saw the creation of a new series of “crash course” posts here at Daily Nous. The brainchild of Natalia Cecire (Sussex), the idea is to come up with a “one-week self education program” for “students who suddenly need to get up to speed in a field, and don’t have time to take a course or immerse themselves in it for a year,” or for professors seeking to lear..
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..
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..