The following is a guest post* by David W. Concepción, professor of philosophy at Ball State University, which summarizes some of the findings presented in “The State of Teacher Training in Philosophy” (Teaching Philosophy 2016), a systematic look at the training in teaching graduate students in philosophy get (alternative link). In the paper, authors Concepción, Me..
Philosophers, have you ever taught a course about philosophy as a way of life? Stephen R. Grimm, professor of philosophy at Fordham University, has. During the course his students have to select one of the ways of life covered in the course, spend three days living it, and then create video reflections of the experience. It would be great to hear from others who’ve ..
“Perhaps all professional philosophers have wrestled with the problem of how to cover all the important things in the limited time of a single course.” But what are the important things? And who are the important figures?
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..
The following is a guest post* from Andrew Higgins, who recently received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He spent some time combing through data at the Open Syllabus Project (previously) and in the post presents some information that should be of interest to fellow philosophers. Thanks, Dr. Higgins!
Philosophy Data from..
A philosopher on the job market writes in with a question about course size:
A school that may offer me a tenure line position has a 65 student cap for intro courses, and I would be doing all the work (no grad program, no student graders, etc.). It is likely that I would have have to teach 2 such courses at once during either Fall or Spring, in addition to handli..
TeachPhilosophy101 is an open-source compendium of resources helpful for teaching philosophy. It’s mission is “to enhance undergraduate student learning in introductory philosophy courses by providing free, user-friendly strategies and resources to the academic community.”
The Economist analysed 1,289,407 RateMyProfessor.com reviews of 1,066 professors and lecturers in New York and has reported on some of its findings. Among them is the nugget that instructors of philosophy, compared with other disciplines, are most often described as “brilliant” by their students. According to the article, “an adoring student termed her teacher ‘a ph..
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..
The editors of the Blog of the American Philosophical Association have begun a new series to help members of the profession with questions, challenges, and problems, about teaching philosophy. Jennifer Morton (CUNY) writes:
The Teaching Workshop is a new, regular feature on the Blog of the APA, run by the APA’s committee on the teaching of philosophy. Every other..
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..
In a comment on a previous post, What’s “Core” and What’s “Peripheral” in Philosophy—and Why?, Brian Weatherson (Michigan) notes that there are “some practical questions that need answering from time to time.” They are:
- Which subfields of philosophy should a philosophy major be required to take courses in?
- Which subfields of philosophy should a PhD student be ..
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..
Following on the heels of last week’s discussion of non-philosophers teaching critical thinking, the Chronicle of Higher Education drew attention to a meta-analysis of studies about whether colleges succeed in teaching critical thinking at all. As it turns out, they do:
Students’ critical-thinking skills do improve in college. The difference is comparable to a st..
What is an “intellectually safe space”? In “What Does Intellectual Safety Really Mean?” Katelyn Hallman (North Florida) notes:
An intellectually safe environment, as typically construed, is something like an environment “in which a person feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions without fear of harsh judgment or repercussions.” This conception of intellectual..
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..
“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..
“The more you hate the idea of teaching online, the more that online education needs you.”
That’s historian Joseph Rees (Colorado State – Pueblo), writing at Vitae. He is no fan of online courses, worried about their quality and effectiveness but notes that their increased prevalence is probably unstoppable. Here’s the context for the above quote:
I recently m..
There are some philosophers we hear a lot about—not just those in the canon, but also the “superstars” of today. These philosophers can often be inspirations on the page, motivating students to take up philosophy as a major course of study. But just as important—probably more so—are those undergraduate professors who inspired or motivated you to take philosoph..
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..
Public debate is rife with poor reasoning, with certain confused or erroneous claims popping up again and again to affect opinions and policies. Some of these are owed to an inability to understand statistics, some are owed to a lack of scientific understanding, and some are philosophical mistakes. Logic and critical thinking courses already take up formal errors in..
Welcome back to Ought Experiment! It’s a new semester, and that can only mean one thing: fresh opportunities to go home and torture ourselves about the rebelliously stupid sentences that occasionally belly flop forth from our mouths. Or, err… is that just me? Probably not, because this week’s question involves a classroom joke that may have gone too far.
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..
Jessica Wolfendale (West Virginia) writes in:
I am putting together a course proposal for an introductory Philosophy of Sex & Gender course, and I would appreciate any suggestions regarding how best to structure the course and what content to include, as well as advice about what did/didn’t work in similar courses.
As we’ve discussed before, most of our students are not heading off to become philosophers. Increasingly, students already have jobs and are saddled with time-consuming responsibilities, and are coming from a broader range of socio-economic backgrounds. What good is a philosophical education for them? Jennifer Morton (City College of New York) takes up the question ..
Do you use Turnitin or SafeAssign in your courses to help deter and catch plagiarism? It turns out such software is not very good, reports Inside Higher Ed. Here are the results of a recent test conducted by Susan E. Schorn, a writing coordinator at the University of Texas at Austin:
Out of a total of 37 sources, the software fully identified 15, partially identi..
I sometimes use excerpts from comedy routines or shows in my teaching. For example, when I teach Frankfurt’s On Bullshit in my contemporary moral problems course, I regularly use this segment from the Colbert Report:
And in my philosophy and ..
The Education Ministry of Israel has proposed to add philosophy to the country’s elementary school curriculum. The proposal would have students “be taught the works of the prominent philosophers, develop critical thinking and learn how to ask meaningful questions and answer them in a serious manner,” starting in the third grade, according to an article at Israel Hay..